TSA Threatens Man with $10K Fine For Opting out of Backscatter and Refusing Pat Down

A man opts out of the porno machine and is explained that they will do a complete patdown including patting down his groin at which point he refuses that also. They refuse to let him through and escort him from the security area. And then:

At this point, I thought it was all over. I began to make my way to the stairs to exit the airport, when I was approached by another man in slacks and a sport coat. He was accompanied by the officer that had escorted me to the ticketing area and Mr. Silva. He informed me that I could not leave the airport. He said that once I start the screening in the secure area, I could not leave until it was completed. Having left the area, he stated, I would be subject to a civil suit and a $10,000 fine. I asked him if he was also going to fine the 6 TSA agents and the local police officer who escorted me from the secure area. After all, I did exactly what I was told. He said that they didn’t know the rules, and that he would deal with them later. They would not be subject to civil penalties. I then pointed to Mr. Silva and asked if he would be subject to any penalties. He is the agents’ supervisor, and he directed them to escort me out. The man informed me that Mr. Silva was new and he would not be subject to penalties, either. He again asserted the necessity that I return to the screening area. When I asked why, he explained that I may have an incendiary device and whether or not that was true needed to be determined. I told him that I would submit to a walk through the metal detector, but that was it; I would not be groped. He told me that their procedures are on their website, and therefore, I was fully informed before I entered the airport; I had implicitly agreed to whatever screening they deemed appropriate. I told him that San Diego was not listed on the TSA’s website as an airport using Advanced Imaging Technology, and I believed that I would only be subject to the metal detector. He replied that he was not a webmaster, and I asked then why he was referring me to the TSA’s website if he didn’t know anything about it. I again refused to re-enter the screening area.

More video of this encounter are available on his blog.


  1. Here’s an idea… don’t fly if you don’t want to walk through the machine. Seriously, do you think the TSA robots give a flick what your black-and-white fuzzy body parts look like?

    1. Aside from completely ignoring the health effect of scanner radiation, you’ve completely lost your grasp on the concept of human privacy and dignity as an end in itself.

    2. I haven’t flown in almost 20 years, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to get to the western part of the US via the efficiency of flight vs. rail – rail, which is fine if you have the time and enough reading/computer games for 3 days. That doesn’t mean I want to subject my brother or sister and their respective children to undergo this procedure to come east. I don’t think you are thinking about this hard enough. How much of your body does the government own? Zero of it. Why are there laws against walking down the street naked? Why are there laws against people who touch you without your permission? Why can the government break those laws, and why are you ok with that?

      Where will it end?

  2. I’m thinking this guy didn’t want the TSA to discover he had no balls.

    Pardon my furor, but if you don’t want to be searched, don’t fly. I’m a woman and if selected, I’d be proud to be physically searched or go through the “porno machine” if it means that less people will die in the sky as a result of terrorist acts. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not trying to die in a flaming ball of fire in the sky. We all have genitals, including the TSA agents, and I’d bet that they aren’t exactly thrilled about this new mandate.

    It doesn’t matter your position on the war; we have soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines dying overseas. Stop complaining be uncomfortable for a few moments if it means a safer flight. Jeez.

    1. Flying is dangerous. Passing through x-ray machines and any other type that uses radiation is dangerous also. I hardly believe people took over three aircraft and crashed them with box cutters. Flying was more dangerous in the ’70’s and we didn’t get groped or camp X-Rayed out of existence.

    2. “Proud”? I’m not sure why you’d be proud, unless you really really think you have a nice body and enjoy voyeurism.

      “if it means that less people will die in the sky as a result of terrorist acts… Stop complaining be uncomfortable for a few moments if it means a safer flight. ”

      You realize that these machines are already known to be ineffective in stopping a bomber? ( http://consumerist.com/2010/04/post-1.html )

    3. I agree with this lady. Freedom is simply not worth the 0.00001% chance that I might die in a terrorist attack. The only reasonable response to terrorism is to give in completely. That way we won’t be scared anymore.

      1. I really hope I didn’t get all those thumbs down because people were taking me seriously.

        While we’re on the subject, I know that Poe’s Law originally referred to fundamentalism, but has the meaning has become broad enough to consider my comment a “poe”? I’m of the opinion that common usage has morphed the term poe into a much more general purpose term. In other words: “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a [controversial subject] in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.”

    4. What kind of argument is this? We should do this for freedom? The terrorists don’t have to bomb us or hijack us anymore, they have scared us to put up with our own government taking away our freedoms, to allow this for safety’s sake with pride – PRIDE? Really? They hate freedom and so now we don’t have any. They win. Anyone who thinks this is ok, and anyone who believes it makes them safer is ignoring the attack on them by their own government. The terrorists will really get a laugh on you when you’re bending over for a mandatory cavity search from the TSA. Takes Safety Away.

  3. The basic flaw in this demand for privacy is in fact ignorance.

    The man says he is willing to pass through a metal detector, but is apparently ignorant of the fact that a completely viable bomb can be made without a single piece of metal being present.

    As to the use of scanners, the amount of radiation for a single scan is too low to be significant. The reason hospital staff, etc. go behind screens whilst an x-ray or other scan is going on is because they go through the routine numerous times EACH DAY. At which point the amount of radiation would indeed be a problem.

    So maybe we can do without the pointless scaremongering guys?

    Back to the gentleman who wants to help terrorists get an easy ride, were he to find out the facts of the matter he might be more willing to accept Justin’s suggestion:

    Be screened or don’t fly.

    1. Im voting “Dont fly” and i encourage others to do the same. When they return our rights to us and stop being afraid of the boogy man ill gladly give them my business

    2. “who wants to help terrorists get an easy ride”

      – The purpose of terrorism is to scare* people into submission to the degradation of liberty. And it’s going, bit by bit. It’s not to kill everyone, it’s to panic us enough to allow our own government to beat us – to grope you intimately or tear up your ticket if you resist, or sue you for $10,000. It’s working. Nobody wants to be inconvenienced, just shut up and walk through the damn thing! We lose it all when enough people are fine with it, and we’re not safer.

      *It’s right in the name – the word is terrorist – it’s not murderist, it’s terrorist. Killing people is just a tool they use, their means, it’s not their goal. Just to make sure you’re clear on that.

    3. That would be bullshit even if one were to accept that trading liberty for security is a fair deal. It’s not as though there is an iota of evidence to suggest backscatter screening actually makes things any safer; and since you’re arguing from false (or a best tenuous) premises, it’s almost irrelevant that your argument is specious as well.

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