Daily Archives: November 2, 2009

The TSA shell game

Ah, another one sees the light.  Really, read the entire piece, it’s hard to identify the key parts because there are so many.  Long story short:  A person with a full career in law enforcement gets tired of being ‘randomly selected’ for search at the airport and asks if she can refuse.  After some attempts at cajoling her into going through the super-duper all seeing terrorist detector machine they decide to search her:

I had been told repeatedly I would be subjected to a “pat-down.”  I correctly suspected otherwise.  During the course of my police career, I have conducted many pat-downs on the street.  The Supreme Court has described pat downs as a cursory check of the outer clothing of a person by a police officer, upon articulable suspicion that the officer’s safety is at risk of being compromised.

What happened to me in Albany was not the promised “pat-down.”  It was a full search conducted in full public view.  It was also one of the most flawed searches I have ever witnessed.

From the outset, it was very clear that the screener would have preferred to be anywhere else…With rubber-gloved hands she checked my head, my arms, my legs, my buttocks (and discovered a pen that had fallen into one of my pockets) and even the bottom of my feet.  Perhaps in a nod to decorum, she did not check my crotch, my armpits or either breast area.

Here was a big problem:  an effective search cannot nod to decorum.

Had I actually intended to move contraband past the screening point, my best strategy would have been to refuse secondary screening.

I am also forced to conclude that the purpose of the “pat-down” was not to actually interdict contraband.    In my case, I believe I was subjected to a haphazard response in order to effectively punish me for refusing secondary screening and to encourage a different decision in the future.