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Old 07-01-11, 01:45 AM   #1
nick nickolas
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Default airport security

Hello all,
This is not show related, but travel related.
I just saw a documentary on airport security in America, it focused on security guards putting their hands down and fondling peoples genitils 3 yr olds up to 95 yr olds. It was done seemingly to protect. They were even doing it to pilots until recently.
Just wondering as a lot of people here live or travel within the USA, has anyone experienced this or heard of it happening to anyone.
Also what are your thoughts?
Mine are that it is outrageous.
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Old 07-01-11, 02:30 AM   #2
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they have never touched me, and I fly a lot. I think the people who have the worst problems are the people who expect it and want to stress out about it. The TSA agents do piss me off from time to time, but not because they are being intrusive on my body. Mostly just because they aren't always very smart.
Think before you go there, you are either going to go through a metal detector or a scatter scan. If you have lots of metal on you through a metal detector they are going to pat you down. If you go through the scatter scan and you have shit taped to your nuts they are going to reach down there.
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Old 07-01-11, 05:03 AM   #3
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Many airports still only have metal detectors. But some have the x-ray/scatter machines and it's pretty random if you're picked to go through one.

I won't go through the scatter scan. Not because it's unsafe (which I believe it is) or even because it's a violation of my civil liberties (which I believe it is) but because it's security theatre that has no actual effect in making our air travel or our airports safer (documented fact I can't be bothered to look up right now).

In the nicest tone of voice I can muster, but at a volume about 50% higher than normal conversation, I say, "I'll take the pat down please, I prefer to skip the naked cancer machine."

Then when the security guard asks me, as they are legally required to do, if there's any part of me I don't want touched because it will cause me pain or discomfort, I raise my voice about another 50% (because we're farther away from the line), smile even bigger, and say, "I appreciate that you are a nice person who is just doing your job, but it will cause me pain and discomfort if you touch my genitals and I'm asking not to touch me there."

They go through "I have to reach up your leg until I meet resistance," and I come back with, "I'm a rape survivor and I am asking again that you do not touch my genitals." Still smiling, still very, very loud.

Then they pat me down as quickly and as embarassedly as they can, I thank them and assure them that I know it's only their job and they probably don't like security theatre any more than the rest of us do, collect my stuff, and get on the way.

It's dumb, but it's my tiny part in objection to the greater idiocy of security theatre while still making my flights.

Hilariously, when you land in Europe, they rescreen all the bags before leaving the airport because no-one trusts American TSA anyway.
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Old 07-04-11, 03:53 PM   #4
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Default agreed and hahahahaha

Thanks for that great post Isabella!

I am sitting in the lounge in Logan Airport and literally just opted for the pat down. A big smile on my face the entire time and I thanked them all over and over again for not only just doing their job, but also for working on the holiday. I breezed through and they hardly searched my bags.
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Old 07-05-11, 10:47 PM   #5
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In one of Penn and Teller's books, they write about gluing a small red clown nose on their ID. When handing the ID to security, they put on a matching clown nose, so when security looks up from examining the photo, they match their likeness in the photo! I chickened out,and didn't do that. Considered taping bubble wrqp to my legs, and dog toy squeekers to my underwear - Hey TSA deserves a cheap thrill now and agaqin, right?
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Old 07-06-11, 04:14 AM   #6
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Stretch, you are EVIL. Next time i fly I will have squekers in my shorts and under my arms. The bubble wrap on the legs may just piss them off to much.
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Old 07-06-11, 10:59 AM   #7
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I received the extra rub'n'tug from security at LAX on my way to Singapore last year.. fun times! Told 'em I thought of my boyfriend the whole time!
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Old 07-10-11, 03:21 PM   #8
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I know I'm new on the forum, and will probably catch a lot of flak for this. But, complaining about "security theatre" (a whole conversation in itself) and then claiming to be a rape survivor, if you aren't really a rape survivor, is pretty hypocritical and lame. Unless of course, you really are a rape survivor, in which case I think you're allowed some special treatment.

I know airport security sucks, but geez.
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Old 07-10-11, 10:12 PM   #9
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Sure, I'll come out on a public forum read by many of my friends, why not?

I've been raped. And really, I'd call it pretty common - stats from the CDC and the Dept. of Justice peg it around 1 in 5 women, and of course the vast majority are raped by someone they know.

Am I willing to use that experience cynically to further the general feeling of discontent against the TSA? Absolutely. And I hope my mouthiness and cynicism does some good for other people who have experienced rape, who maybe aren't as willing/able to speak up, and have to choose between the naked cancer machine/security theatre or being touched on their genitals and breasts by a stranger in public while unable to resist without severely inconveniencing themselves, their travel partners, and everyone else in line.

So Devinio, I'll turn the question back on you - should a woman have to have experienced prior sexual assault in order to be exempt from having her genitals touched by a stranger, in public, as the price for air travel? And is it relevant that that practice does not in fact reduce air terrorism?
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Old 07-11-11, 03:10 AM   #10
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Well I hope you didn't feel pressured to admit that on a public forum because of my post, that was not my intention. In your case, I withdraw my complaint and I feel you have every right to inform the TSA of your experience.

I've been searched harshly and had my nuts rubbed, in one of those side rooms by airport employees. It was a humiliating experience, they locked me in a room, made me wait around for a while, and then dude came in and gave me the whole rub down and was pretty harsh on my balls, and I was upset. I've also been searched, thrown down stairs, pushed around, had my vehicle tossed, and generally harrassed by police/security people on numerous occasions. Most of that was well before this current terrorism thing was even a big issue. I guess I wasn't always such an angel.

Having said that, I disagree with the notion that a full body search for each passenger doesn't reduce the risk of air terrorism. It seems that some sort of security search is necessary, and the degree of that search, is largely up for debate. I mean, would you fly if there was no security search?

I know plenty of people who think the current rules are a bit much, and I don't have an issue with that, it's a valid opinion. I just have an issue with people who claim they are of a specific category that warrants special treatment when they are not. I've spent a lot of time in my life in crap jobs dealing with people standing in lines, so I'm a little bit jaded.

Anyway, I'm sorry if it feels like I forced you to come out and admit something you didn't feel comfortable with. I didn't mean to do that.
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Old 07-11-11, 03:30 AM   #11
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I forgot something important. Isabella, I'm sorry about what happened to you. The idea that it could be as common as you said gives me chills. I don't know how some people live with themselves.
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Old 07-11-11, 02:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devinio View Post
Well I hope you didn't feel pressured to admit that on a public forum because of my post, that was not my intention. In your case, I withdraw my complaint and I feel you have every right to inform the TSA of your experience.
Thanks, and rest assured, I would not have come out if I wasn't OK with doing so (part of my point here is that those of us tough enough to stand up need to do so on behalf of those more shy). But you might take a look at your original response, because you did call on me to put up or shut up (which is fair). One of the challenges in debate is that if one is going to present evidence based on personal anecdote, one must be willing to get personal. I dropped that challenge and you picked it up, so don't back out now


Quote:
Originally Posted by devinio View Post
Having said that, I disagree with the notion that a full body search for each passenger doesn't reduce the risk of air terrorism.
General consensus among TSA and security observers is that the current measures would not have stopped the underwear bomber, the 9/11 terrorists would still be able to get past security today (not with box cutters but see below for how to make a knife in an airplane bathroom), that anyone--anyone--can fake a boarding pass at home and get through security even if on the No Fly list, and that our biggest risks are actually air cargo and baggage, neither of which are particularly thoroughly screened. We are closing the barn door after the horse has gone.

But hey, don't take my word for it:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/...-carried/7057/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...121606895.html

And to be fair, the Christian Science Monitor, also a legit news source, supports the current procedures, so there's your devil's advocate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by devinio View Post
It seems that some sort of security search is necessary, and the degree of that search, is largely up for debate. I mean, would you fly if there was no security search?
I fly about 75 times a year. I'm in the air a lot. I've been experimenting lately with my baggie of liquids, "forgetting" to put it in the bin. So far the American TSA is batting zero. After 22 airports, the only people who caught it and searched my carry-on to find it were Heathrow, who as the original site of the liquid attacks, have extra reason to watch. I pack my scissors sometimes when I am flying with only carry-on, and I can get them through security in DTW, MSP, STL, TPA, CLT, ANC and probably a few others I've forgotten (all American). Every now and then my scissors concealment technique gets picked up...but they don't find anything when they hand-search my bag.

(A further note on Heathrow--the liquid bombers weren't found at the airport, they were found through intelligence and police work in the city.)

When I land in Reykjavik, Dublin, Heathrow or Amsterdam, the first thing their airports do is re-screen and metal detect all the passengers and baggage. American TSA is not trusted as effective in those countries. I can't speak for the rest of the first world, I haven't been there recently.

What most TSA, government, and media agree on--including Bruce Schneier, who originally coined the term "security theatre" in his book, Beyond Fear, to apply to other ineffective protection measures--is that the most effective security out there is the way Israel does things. You can read about that here:

http://www.slate.com/id/2279753/

It's the most effective security screening in any airport--they haven't had a terrorist attack in the airport since 1972--and they've actually apprehended one bomber prior to boarding a plane.

Why don't we do it in the USA? Because it relies heavily on racial profiling and it takes humans to do it, so it costs more. I'll leave it as an exercise which one of those elements the US airline industry opposes most.
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Old 07-11-11, 09:23 PM   #13
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Hmm. I wasn't really interested in debating the finer points of the current airport security rules. It's just not something I'm emotionally invested in, I do fly regularly, but not 75 times a year. You could have posted on here and ranted and raved about how dumb the security procedures were and it never would have occurred to me to respond. Do I think the current procedures are perfect? Not really. Do I think screening of passengers before they get on a plane is necessary? Yes. Do I think it's possible to devise a system that will always catch an intelligent, determined person, who is willing to die? No, I don't. If you can make a knife in prison, surely you can come up with one in an airport. But anyway:

The reason I called out your post was because I (mistakenly) assumed that you were not actually a rape survivor, and we're just claiming to be one in order to expedite yourself through security and embarrass the TSA employees while you're at it. I should not have made that assumption, and next time I will think twice before I call someone hypocritical. The reason it bothered me so much is because I feel it would be a disservice to actual rape survivors if you we're to claim to be one, when you aren't. Even if you were doing it to get past a piece of "security theatre". I base this opinion on my years of experience dealing with impatient people, waiting in long lines, and what happens to the mind of the person dealing with those long lines, and those impatient people. I could expound on this a bit further if you're interested, but for the sake of brevity (not my strong suit) I'll just leave it there for now.

However, I did read all of the articles you posted. I love The Atlantic magazine, I actually subscribe to it, but I must have missed that particular article. I am already familiar with the Israeli security procedures, and while it is clearly effective, I can't imagine that going over well here. Although this particular interchange in The Atlantic article you posted struck me as racial profiling in everything except the name:

"I told the document checker at security that I had lost my identification but was hoping I would still be able to make my flight. He said I’d have to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor arrived; he looked smart, unfortunately. I was starting to get genuinely nervous, which I hoped would generate incriminating micro-expressions. “I can’t find my driver’s license,” I said. I showed him my fake boarding pass. “I need to get to Washington quickly,” I added. He asked me if I had any other identification. I showed him a credit card with my name on it, a library card, and a health-insurance card. “Nothing else?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“You should really travel with a second picture ID, you know.”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

“All right, you can go,” he said, pointing me to the X-ray line. “But let this be a lesson for you.”

Somehow, I doubt this would have been the same if he was arabic, or had an accent, but Goldberg is about as white as it gets, and he breezed right through. For that matter, so is Schneier. I think it would be interesting to see if someone who looked different would have a different experience.

Another quote from the article I thought might be of interest:

"all frisks that avoid the sensitive regions are by definition symbolic"

Also, I was dying to know if they could actually board the plane with an entirely fake boarding pass. I mean if that works, it seems like you could just skip the whole ticket process and scam you're way on to flights. Way cool. Well, maybe not cool but something like it. So much for brevity I guess...
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Old 07-12-11, 03:37 AM   #14
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So I'll go back to my original questions, then -

"Should a woman have to have experienced prior sexual assault in order to be exempt from having her genitals touched by a stranger, in public, as the price for air travel? And is it relevant that that practice does not in fact reduce air terrorism?"

In answer to your question, the things that make it not possible to board an airplane with a completely fake boarding pass are 1) The gate agent scans your boarding pass barcode which checks it against the list of actually purchased tickets, and 2) A human flight attendant counts the people on the plane before takeoff. Part 1 is the part that security in the X-ray line is missing, and part 2 is the Israeli-style security that requires a human and costs more to implement.

And yes, of course it's racial profiling. Though Timothy McVeigh certainly established that in the USA the profile is not always the way to go.

Last edited by Isabella; 07-12-11 at 03:39 AM. Reason: Re-read what I was replying to and had missed something.
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Old 07-12-11, 01:07 PM   #15
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Oh right. That makes sense, it's a good enough scam to get past the no-fly list, but they weren't trying to just get on the plane for free. Still an interesting loophole though. I brought up the racial profiling thing, largely because I've heard so many times that the best way to make airports safe is racial profiling, like in Israel. What I got out of the article was that maybe we have a lot of racial profiling going on and we just don't like to admit it. But that's just what I took out of it. Obviously, racial profiling wouldn't have worked on McVeigh, or Kaczynski, but neither one of them tried to hijack an airplane. Mcveigh is an interesting case though, because how do you protect against a nutjob with a truck and some bombs? (rhetorical)

Oh, and original question begets original answer, my second post.
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Old 07-13-11, 04:18 AM   #16
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Do you mean this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by devinio View Post
Having said that, I disagree with the notion that a full body search for each passenger doesn't reduce the risk of air terrorism. It seems that some sort of security search is necessary, and the degree of that search, is largely up for debate. I mean, would you fly if there was no security search?
I went ahead and quoted a fair amount of information, from experts who believe that no, a full body search for each passenger does not reduce the risk of air terrorism. And in fact, that's not what we have. We have a mix of metal detectors, scatter machines, and pat-downs. You and I also both agree there's racial profiling involved. We've also both read the information about the Israeli system, which is effective and does not physically search every--or even many--passengers. So you can disagree with that notion all you like, but you'll be incorrect until you provide some backup in the form of expert opinion or data.

To answer your direct question, I spent years flying before we had scatter machines and pat-downs, and I don't feel any safer now than I did then, so yes, I'd fly without pat-downs or scatters, and guess what? In Europe, I do all the time.

I'm still not seeing the answer where you side with one of these:

NO, a woman should not have to have been previously sexually assaulted to be exempt from having her genitals touched by a stranger in public;
or
YES, a woman should have to have been previously sexually assaulted to be exempt from having her genitals touched by a stranger in public.

Because I'm inferring that you do think there should be an exception for rape victims, but I'm not sure why this trauma should be any more special than any other; conversely I'm not sure why one should have to have suffered previous trauma to be excused from dehumanizing and inappropriate touching by pseudo-authority figures.


*******
YES I GET IT, I have crossed over into "arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics" territory, but I care big time about this issue, it affects me directly about once every two weeks, I have spent a crapload of time reading and thinking about it, and now that I've been called out I am on this bus to the end of the fucking line. So I'm being a little cranky here, but I genuinely want to know, is having been raped good enough to get you out of the pat-down, and if it is, why do you have to have been raped to get out of the pat-down? Do we say to a little kid, unless you previously got molested, the TSA is going to touch you there?

(Huff, huff)


Last edited by Isabella; 07-13-11 at 04:20 AM. Reason: dropped verb, forming unintentionally hilarious sentence about sexual assault
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Old 07-13-11, 12:35 PM   #17
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One thing that I see happen on these types of forums a lot is that people run back and forth in circles saying the same thing about the same stuff over and over. The beginning of that usually starts with one person asking the exact same thing they asked 5 posts ago, and getting the same answer, only much longer and twice as angry. I'm not into it.

I answered your question to the best of my ability, but I felt that you took a complex issue and attempted to boil it down to a simple yes or no question designed to illicit maximum response. So my answer did not come in the form of a yes or no. I cannot compel you to be satisfied with my answer, in the same sense that you cannot compel me to answer yes or no when I don't feel it's appropriate. I read all of your articles, considered what I had read before, and my opinion remains essentially unchanged, although I am open to the idea that I could be wrong.

So just to be clear, my issue was with tactics, not facts of security. So, if you are interested in discussing the merits of how to deal with a piece of "security theatre" perceived or actual, then perhaps we can go a few rounds. However, if your primary interest is to debate the finer points and merits of our current security procedures, and whether or not they constitute "security theatre" then I will have to oblige you in your quest for the last word.

Now at this point, if I were a casual observer I would be asking this question:
"Why is this person posting in a forum thread about airport security if he doesn't have an interest in it?"

Basically, I wandered in here out of boredom one day. I noticed something unrelated to airport security that set me off, and posted about that before I really considered the current topic of the thread, or even thought it through for that matter. I'm sure most of us have done that a few times.
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