While leaving the Providence, Rhode Island gathering for the Franklin Center where the first annual Breitbart Awards were held, we were detained by the TSA and my husband was subjected to intrusive screenings based on the claim that he was covered in "nitrates." We fly frequently and when told to walk through the hotly debate Backscatter machines, we opt out for patdowns. I walked through the metal detector but Chris was directed to the bodyscanner, at which point he opted out. He was subjected to the standard pat-down: back of the hands, check your waistband, run hands up and down the inside of the leg stopping at the groin. When the agent went to check his gloves he claimed that something on his gloves "set off the alarm" at which point informed us that Chris would be subjected to another pat-down and his luggage searched. They directed us over to the side of the security area and searched his luggage; they also swabbed everything in it. It was at this point they began talking about "nitrates," a reason often in the news because of the propensity for false-positive results in such tests. They asked him if he fired a gun or handled gas today. We explained to them that we had not been to a range in a few weeks and did not go in the clothes he was wearing or take with us our carry-on luggage. They zipped up his luggage and directed us to a private room. He was not given the choice as to whether or not he wanted a private or public screening for the second, more invasive pat-down. At this point we were becoming annoyed as we'd been detained for around 25 minutes minutes already (the entire screening process took about 45 minutes) and were concerned that we would miss our flight. I flipped on my camera after we had been escorted into the private room and kept it vertical, rather than horizontal, to look less confrontational. The TSA agent informed us, as he snapped on his blue latex gloves, that he would be performing another pat-down, this time using the front of his hands, and he would be touching Chris's "groin." It was at this point I began asking questions. He became aggravated and asked for me to turn off my camera. I asked once more about photos and video for clarification, and he stated that the reason I could not film them touching my husband's genitals through his shorts was due to "security reasons." The other agent in the room spoke into his shoulder walkie about security. I complied and turned off my phone. When I asked for the agent's name a second time, he informed me that if I would like, he would call security. The agent demanded that I put my phone away entirely and get it out of my hands and would not start the intrusive screening procedure until I had done so. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3c6-HPqlWc] He performed the pat-down which began as routine, except that he used the front of his hands. He then bent down and specifically targeted Chris's crotch. Using the front of his hands, he pressed against his genitals and swept his hands across the crotch three times across, and then pressed at the top of his genitals and wiped his hands down three times. Make no mistake: outside of the airport this would be considered molestation. They claimed that the alarm went off again after this second intrusive pat-down and that it was, again, due to "nitrates." They were going to have to hold us further and were not sure whether we would make our flight. I informed them that I planned to speak out publicly about it, which aggravated them, but I wanted them to know that this process was unacceptable. They called over a supervisor and huddled together to discuss the situation. They were considering not allowing him to board, from the muted discussion I heard. It was at this point, per the supervisor from my understanding, that they agreed to release him, having found nothing on his person and no reason to suspect him. As mentioned before, the entire screening process took around 45 minutes. We ran to our gate and fortunately made it as the last group boarded. One of the agents suggested that perhaps he got whatever tipped off the alarm from the cab -- but I was also in the cab, I reminded them. For the sake of the argument, had we been terrorists, their screening would have failed as their metal detectors would not have detected any explosive materials on me, and their bodyscanners do not detect such materials; if either of us had ill intent one of us would have been allowed on the flight. The TSA's policy of nonsensical random screenings, which look for items rather than behavior, can be easily exploited, which is why our country has a bloodier history with sky-terror than, say, Israel, which focuses on behavior in their security protocol. The citizenry should not have to put up with such a violation of their civil rights, airline customers should not suffer the harassment of being felt up or molested to fly the skies, and the government should not forces private airline companies to subject their customers such intrusions. Airlines should have the right to privatize their security and the federal government needs more intelligent means of thwarting sky-terrorism than fondling citizens. More from Twitchy here. *UPDATE: Jimi971 notes this:
TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down. We do ask you to not film or take pictures of the monitors. While the TSA does not prohibit photographs at screening locations, local laws, state statutes, or local ordinances might. Taking photographs may also prompt airport police or a TSA official to ask what your purpose is. It is recommended that you use the Talk To TSA program on tsa.gov to contact the Customer Support Manager at the airport to determine its specific policy. Or, if you are a member of the press, you should contact the TSA Office of Public Affairs.I'm curious to know what Rhode Island's regulations are concerning the taping of TSA agents performing intrusive screenings.