'Stop touching me!' Fury as airport security staff are caught on camera searching a crying three-year-old girl
The national outcry over intrusive body searches at American airports intensified today after it emerged security staff were caught on camera frisking a crying three-year-old girl. Mandy Simon is seen sobbing and pleading with staff at Chattanooga, Tennessee airport. She had become upset after having to have her teddy bear put through an X-ray machine and can be heard screaming: 'Stop touching me!'
The incident involving Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff was captured by her television reporter father Steven Simon on his mobile phone. Mandy was searched after she set the metal detector off at the airport twice. It is TSA policy to do a pat down search after the second time whatever the age of the passenger.
In Washington the TSA defended themselves on Tuesday. TSA chief John Pistole told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that passengers who refuse to go through a full-body scanner machine and reject a pat-down will not be allowed to board, even if they reject the in-depth security measures for religious reasons.
'That person is not going to get on an airplane,' Pistole said in response to a question from Republican Sen. John Ensign whether the TSA would provide exemptions for passengers whose religious beliefs do not allow them to go through a physically revealing body scan or be touched by screeners.
Civil rights groups contend the more intensive screening violates civil liberties including freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.
The issue is getting new attention after John Tyner posted an item online saying he was thrown out of the San Diego airport for rejecting a full-body scan and pat-down groin check and instead insisting on passing through a metal detector.
Pistole acknowledged the incident was drawing wide attention but told the committee an officer involved was 'very cool, calm, professional' in dealing with the passenger.
One civil liberty group is urging air travelers to take part in a national opt-out day the day before Thanksgiving, refusing to go through the full-body detectors and insisting that any pat-down they receive as a result take place in full view of other passengers.
Several senators asked Pistole to address public criticism of the body-imaging machines and more intrusive pat-downs the agency is using. Pistole said the tougher screening is necessary, and that the FDA has found the imaging machines to be safe. Pistole said his agency was working to address pilot and flight attendant concerns about the screening.
Elsewhere at least two passengers, including a 54-year-old Missouri City man, have complained about airport staff putting their hands down the front and rear of their pants - as invasive new screening measures are increasingly criticised. Thomas Mollman, 54, said he experienced the controversial 'pat down' when he was travelling through security at Fort Lauderdale Airport. Mr Mollman, who was wearing shorts at the time of the search, said he was subjected to a 'groping' by a TSA officer, and he believe his experience was tantamount to sexual molestation.
He said: '[The officer] put his hand in between my underwear and my skin and did a 360 all the way around, touching certain sesitive points in the back and the front.' He added: 'This was an assault. This was no different than a sexual assault.'
Under TSA rules, those who decline the scans must submit to pat-downs that include checks of the inside of travelers' thighs and buttocks.
Radio DJ Owen Stone went further in his discription of his experience at an airport at the weekend. The DJ, known as 'OhDoctah', spoke on the Alex Jones radion show, saying how he was told that the rules had been changed and was offered a private screening. When he asked what the procedure entailed, the TSA agent responded: 'I have to go in your waistband, I have to put my hand down your pants.'
Mr Stone said he chose to conduct the search in public, for fear that the TSA worker would be even more aggressive in a private room. He said that the agent pulled out the waistband of his sweatpants before patting his backside and his crotch. He said that even the TSA agent was embarrassed at what he had been told to do by his superiors, apologising profusely throughout the examination. Mr Stone was explicit in describing the procedure, saying the TSA agent directly felt his testicles, penis and backside while his hand was inside his pants.
The backlash against the full-body scans has grown in recent weeks as the holiday travel season fast approaches.
San Diego's John Tyner filmed his now-famous security encouter with a cell phone, during which he told the TSA employee 'You touch my junk and I'm going to have you arrested.' He objects to full body scans for health concerns, had checked before leaving that the airport in San Diego did not have the machines, and dislikes 'huge invasion of privacy' they represent.
The scanners show a body's contours on a computer stationed in a private room removed from the security checkpoints. Those who decline must submit to pat-downs that include checks of the inside of travelers' thighs and buttocks. Tyner ended up ejected from the airport, threatened with a $10,000 fine and did not fly.
Tyner's health concerns are backed up by various scientists and doctors, despite TSA claims they are safe.
A group of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) raised scanner health concerns in a letter sent to the White House Office of Science and Technology earlier this year. 'While the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high,' they wrote.
Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is also speaking out against the TSA and reminding airports that they have a choice. Mica wrote to the heads of more than 150 airports nationwide suggesting they opt out of TSA screenings. 'When the TSA was established, it was never envisioned that it would become a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy which was soon to grow to 67,000 employees,' he wrote.
'As TSA has grown larger, more impersonal, and administratively top-heavy, I believe it is important that airports across the country consider utilizing the opt-out provision' and use private screening.
Critics also fear that the TSA's 'security theater' of checks, shoe removal, liquid inspection and pat downs has become dangerously ineffective while trying to project the feeling of safety. 'It's a big Kabuki dance,' Mica told the Washington Examiner.
Why is the TSA so stupid?
When they could do it the Israeli way
While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification. That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.
Almost one year after it was published, Cathal Kelly's Star article is more relevant than ever:
"…in a nutshell … "Israelification" [is] a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.
…All drivers [coming to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport] are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?
"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," [Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy] said.
Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.
"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"
Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.
Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour.
…Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben-Gurion Airport shares with Pearson — the body and hand-luggage check.
"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.
"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."
…[All this] doesn't begin to cover the off-site security net that failed so spectacularly in targeting would-be Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.
"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none."
…So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive, so un-Israelified?
Working hard to dampen his outrage, Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.
"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."
And rather than fear, he suggests that outrage would be a far more powerful spur to provoking that change.
The case against Obama's proposed money-creation binge
An impressive group of right-leaning technocrats has signed an open letter to Ben Bernanke, objecting to his adoption of QE2. And it’s hard to disagree with what they have to say:
"We believe the Federal Reserve’s large-scale asset purchase plan (so-called “quantitative easing”) should be reconsidered and discontinued. We do not believe such a plan is necessary or advisable under current circumstances. The planned asset purchases risk currency debasement and inflation, and we do not think they will achieve the Fed’s objective of promoting employment."
It seems clear that the G20 meeting in Seoul achieved absolutely nothing largely because of the unfortunate timing of Bernanke’s QE2 announcement. It overshadowed everything else, it put Obama on the defensive, and it made it impossible for the G20 to agree on anything. I don’t think that the FOMC anticipated the volume of the international criticism of U.S. policy, and that alone is reason to reconsider what they’re doing. After all, if a policy designed to increase confidence only serves to increase mistrust, it probably isn’t working.
QE isn’t necessary: there’s no immediate and obvious harm which will befall the U.S. if it’s discontinued. If it doesn’t increase employment or decrease unemployment, there’s certainly no reason to do it. And so far the evidence that QE has any effect on employment is slim at best. So yes, there’s a case to be made that QE should be discontinued. The letter continues:
"We subscribe to your statement in the Washington Post on November 4 that “the Federal Reserve cannot solve all the economy’s problems on its own.” In this case, we think improvements in tax, spending and regulatory policies must take precedence in a national growth program, not further monetary stimulus."
This is surely true, and I doubt that anyone on the FOMC would disagree. Indeed, the Fed’s own response to the letter explicitly agrees with this point:
"The Chairman has also noted that the Federal Reserve does not believe it can solve the economy’s problems on its own. That will take time and the combined efforts of many parties, including the central bank, Congress, the administration, regulators, and the private sector."
But back to the letter:
"We disagree with the view that inflation needs to be pushed higher, and worry that another round of asset purchases, with interest rates still near zero over a year into the recovery, will distort financial markets and greatly complicate future Fed efforts to normalize monetary policy.
Dude, Where's My Obamacare Waiver?
More than one million Americans have escaped the clutches of the Democrats' destructive federal health care law. Lucky them. Their employers and labor representatives wisely applied for Obamacare waivers earlier this fall and got out while the getting was good. Now, it's time for Congress to create a permanent escape hatch for the rest of us. Repeal is the ultimate waiver.
As you'll recall, President Obama promised repeatedly that if Americans liked their health insurance plan, they could keep it. "Nobody is talking about taking that away from you," the cajoler-in-chief assured. What he failed to communicate to low-wage and part-time workers across the country is that they could keep their plans -- only if their companies begged hard enough for exemptions from Obamacare's private insurance-killing regulations.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, at least 111 waivers have now been granted to companies, unions and other organizations of all sizes who offer affordable health insurance or prescription drug coverage with limited benefits. Obamacare architects sought to eliminate those low-cost plans under the guise of controlling insurer spending on executive salaries and marketing.
It's all about control. If central planners can't dictate what health benefits qualify as "good," what plans qualify as "affordable" and how health care dollars are best spent, then nobody can. The ultimate goal, of course: precipitating a massive shift from private to government insurance.
McDonald's, Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Jack in the Box are among the large, headline-garnering employers who received the temporary waivers. But perhaps the most politically noteworthy beneficiaries of the HHS waiver program: Big Labor.
The Service Employees Benefit Fund, which insures a total of 12,000 SEIU health care workers in upstate New York, secured its Obamacare exemption in October. The Local 25 SEIU Welfare Fund in Chicago also nabbed a waiver for 31,000 of its enrollees. SEIU, of course, was one of Obamacare's loudest and biggest spending proponents. The waivers come on top of the massive sweetheart deal that SEIU and other unions cut with the Obama administration to exempt them from the health care mandate's onerous "Cadillac tax" on high-cost health care plans until 2018.
My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)
The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)