Rape Survivor Devastated by TSA Enhanced Pat Down

Just sickening:

Coming back from Chicago, Celeste, like increasing numbers of travelers, was forced to make a difficult choice – either allow strangers to see her naked or allow strangers to touch and squeeze her breasts and groin in full view of other travels and TSA agents. “This was a nightmare come to life,” Celeste says, “I said I didn’t want them to see me naked and the agent started yelling Opt out- we have an opt here. Another agent took me aside and said they would have to pat me down. He told me he was going to touch my genitals and asked if I wouldn’t rather just go through the scanner, that it would be less humiliating for me. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I kept saying I don’t want any of this to happen. I was whispering please don’t do this, please, please.”

Since Celeste didn’t agree to go through the scanner, the enhanced pat down began. “He started at one leg and then ran his hand up to my crotch. He cupped and patted my crotch with his palm. Other flyers were watching this happen to me. At that point I closed my eyes and started praying to the Goddess for strength. He also cupped and then squeezed my breasts. That wasn’t the worst part. He touched my face, he touched my hair, stroking me. That’s when I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped. There’s no way I can fly again. I can’t do it.”

The TSA has said that travelers will receive the pat downs by same sex TSA agents, but both Celeste and other flyers have refuted this.

(via Boing Boing)

37 Comments

  1. I’m not sure I can believe this story.
    In the last two years I’ve been flying an awful lot. I have yet to see a security post without at least one female agent. They are there for a reason. If “Celeste” was upset, she should have demanded a female officer do the pat down. To write a soft-core porn description of her “ordeal” is really sad.

    1. And what if she was sexually assaulted by another female?

      The problem isn’t that someone of the same sex is violating the passenger. The problem is that they’re being violated.

    2. While the source does not inspire confidence, you should note that (a) it was written by a reporter based on an interview, not by ‘Celeste’ herself; and (b) the description of the whole process is not inconsistent with reports from elsewhere.

      Setting that aside, this particular account – even if a fabrication, which is impossible to verify one way or the other – highlights a major concern I for one had not given thought to until now: namely the effect that both the scan and an intimate pat-down could have on rape survivors.

      And there are a fuck of a lot more rape survivors than there are or ever will be terrorists, so this is not a minor concern. I’m frankly shocked at myself for not having thought of this issue sooner, and even more so at not having noticed it being raised anywhere else till now.

  2. Ooooh the Pagan Newswire Collective! It’s where I get all my hard hitting and definitely not embellished national security news! Every story is guaranteed an unironic infowars.com citation, or your money back! Praise be unto Demeter and Odin.

    1. You know, I detest the Tea Party as much as anyone but check your damn facts before making assertions like this eh? It took just a few seconds to find dozens of Tea Partiers speaking out against these infringements – though admittedly often by quoting the same opinion pieces. The most popular piece on this seems to be:

      Our governmnet is using staged terror attacks and threats to take our liberties and freedoms. We are being conditioned to accept being naked body scanned or being groped by TSA perverts all in an effort to make us submit to tyranny and their system of command and control.

      (From right-wing wacko Alex Jones, but cited very widely on Tea Perty websites)

      There are plenty of others, though; here’s one from a Tea Party blogger:

      Now they get to see everybody buck nekkid! Even kids! How cool is that? Your tax dollars at work, enhancing your privacy by providing kiddie porn to rent-a-cops. Is this a great country or what? … Is it just me or is there something deliciously Orwellian about an airport with the word liberty in its name strip-searching every person who walks in the door?

      The Tea Partiers are not, by and large, in favour of such intrusive measures being directed even against God-fearin’ all-‘Mercun white folks (which shouldn’t be a surprise: ideology aside, the TPiers are an anti-government population which seems to be dominated by the physically uncompelling, while the scanners are a ‘government’ technology that will reveal their bodies in all their uh glory).

      My admittedly limited and informal survey suggests that the most common TP consensus is that these scanners are at best a poor substitute for their preferred solution of profiling:

      Wanding Amish grandmothers in wheelchairs while letting Haji and Muhammad pass through without nary a look lest we offend them and their ever-offended religion! I call major league bullsh*t on that! Do like Israel, check MUSLIMS. They are the TERRORISTS! Quit wasting my time and making me take off my clothes to pretend you are providing security. All TSA provides is a laughable illusion of security!

  3. Next time I go, I’m opting out of the scanner and pretending to enjoy the “enhanced pat-down” way too much. And if they request to do either of these things to my children, I’m pressing charges.

    1. Actually, you can take it to the next level–after refusing the scan, point at one of the TSA agents and say, “Can he do it? He looks like he has strong hands.” Or, just smile and giggle flirtatiously when the TSA agent approaches you to start the pat down.

  4. Some good points being made here, especially about how to handle security checks with children. I haven’t flown in years so I’m wondering, do they check minors the same way as adults now? As Wordygrrl pointed out, it will be too easy for pervs to get their jollies in the name of National Security, and without any priors, there’s no background check that could unveil that.

    As for the victim in this case, they should offer to do a patdown that’s so “intimate” behind a curtain.

  5. Mike Adams over at naturalnews.com is a heavy traveler and mid October he had his first full body scanning experience. I mention it because his experience has some things in common with this woman’s that add validity to it (seems to be some questioning of the woman’s veracity). Mike described the start of his encounter like this…

    “A TSA agent told me to step to the side and stay put. He then proceeded to shout out loudly enough for all the other travelers and TSA agents to hear, “OPT OUT! OPT OUT!” This is no doubt designed to attract attention (or perhaps humiliation) to those who choose to opt out of the naked body scanner. I saw no purpose for this verbal alert because the same TSA agent who was yelling this ultimately was the one who patted me down anyway. ”

    Unlike this woman he was taken to a private room for his pat down and not having had this woman’s awful experience of rape he was ok with the pat down.

    As Justin alluded to above…it’s the terrorists who are winning here.

    1. While I’m pretty sure rape survivors could have an especially uneasy time of it, it shouldn’t take away how intrusive these measures are to someone who hasn’t experienced rape. I’m not ok with the private or public pat-down, I am not even sure if it is possible for me to marginally prefer one over the other. I am also not ok with being so thoroughly fondled by a stranger, to the extent that itself may traumatize me (not to be equated with the horrors of rape – it is more like the dread of being so rock bottom as to prostitute oneself). I guess it just sickens me, rape survivor or no, what it is legal and legally enforced for a stranger to touch someone so personally. It is made so much worse that anyone who doesn’t want to go in the scanner is made already to feel like a freak – psychologically tricking people into choosing the simpler option of nobody touching you, but rather to cut a deal to let them view your body. None of this makes me comfortable. None of it would make me feel safer flying. It’s sickening they are allowed make a deal with passengers to sell nude-scanning as the bargain of the two options. That’s really what’s happening here.

  6. ok, I’ll probably get blasted for this but i’ve honestly never heard the phrase before, when did it go from ‘rape victim’ to ‘rape survivor’?

  7. This woman avoid air travel, working in secure buildings and visiting people in prison. Going through security is obviously not her thing.

  8. What’s the difference WHO pats you down? How do you know the female patting you down isn’t a lesbian? I find it humiliated that ANYONE violates my privacy like this. I fly several times a year for vacations. No more. I’m done. EVERYONE needs to stop flying and write letters to the airlines so THEY will pressure the government to stop this gross violation of our liberties. I’m so fed up.

  9. Mike: Doing it “behind” the curtain only allows the TSA to violate you further without witnesses. Doing it in front or behind the curtain doesn’t matter. The fact is, our bodies are being violated. This is a sexual attack.
    These methods wouldn’t detect the underwear bomber anyway. A better method would be to have everybody go through the metal detector, and have bomb sniffing dogs. There, problem solved, and nobody gets violated.

  10. I wonder if there is a different protocol when children are involved. The Opt Out pat down seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen when a child is involved. I am flying with my kids over Christmas and I sent an e-mail to the TSA wondering about the protocol with children. I anxiously await their response.

    1. I wonder about that, too. As distasteful as either the scanner or the pat down are for me, what would it be like for my three daughters, who are 12, 12, and 13? Wouldn’t either procedure be technically illegal?

  11. What ever happened to the walk-through chemical / metal detector machines? Having a minimally trained TSA agent staring at hundreds, maybe thousands, of grainy pictures is somehow an improvement over those? And we get the bonus of humiliating and violating people’s bodies and privacy. It’s fucking ridiculous that we now have to be either groped or seen naked just to get on a goddamn airplane.

    1. Those things were a boondoggle. They cost a fortune, and they didn’t work very well – too many false positives.

      Of course, these new machines are also a boondoggle. A terrorist will simply shove the device inside their anus or vagina, making it invisible to the strip machine OR the titty twister/nut-cracker pat-down.

      Chalk another datapoint for “collapse of complex societies” by Joseph Tainter.

  12. Is there a third option where I can say:
    1. I refuse the scanner because I don’t want to subject myself to radiation.
    2. I refuse the pat down because I don’t want you fondling me.
    3. Why don’t I just strip for you right here in the airport.

    I’m going to be on FOX News if I can pull this one off…

  13. TDavis, I have heard from enough sexual assault and rape survivors, and this sounds very genuine to me – and frankly you are sick for describing Celeste’s experience as “soft porn”.

    And what’s the point of “security” if the very people who are supposed to keep you safe are violating you?

    What the TSA are doing IS ILLEGAL. See this link: http://openline.medialine.com/showthread.php?p=727549

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