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Kris in Atlanta: ” I was informed that opting out was not an option and that I needed to leave the airport”

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Reader Kris in Atlanta sends us this story. Can the airlines and our economy in general afford the TSA? With 20% unofficial unemployment, can we afford to have them breaking all these business contracts?

As a business frequent flier I fly 2-4 times a week. Usually out of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport. I always opt-out of the body scanners.

I arrived at the airport around 5:30am on Tuesday and proceeded to the south terminal security lines. Upon informing the agent I wanted to “opt-out” I was told to wait for a supervisor. Upon arrival the supervisor asked me which bags were mine. I motioned to my belonging which he collected. He handed me my bags and asked me to leave the airport. I was informed that opting out was not an option and that I needed to leave the airport. It wasn’t until I acquiesced and allowed them to perform a full-body scan that I was allowed to continue.

How in modern America is this possible? Has TSA forgotten that the are operating in the United States of America and I have rights. Do they know they do not have the right to “opt-out” of the US Constitution?

This is not an isolated incident. Each I find that TSA is a little more Stalin’esk in their dealings with the American people. Last week when I asked a question I found myself on the opposite end of a 10minute lecture from the TSA agent. Was freedom of speech suddenly removed from our constitution and someone forgot to inform the American public?

  • http://www.TravelWithDignity.com JasonRobinson

    Stunning arrogance. SO the TSA’s response to Opt Out Day is apparently going to be an even heaver handed “you WILL submit.”

    Readers, please Opt Out, insist on your right to Opt out. Ask for a supervisor. Ask for their supervisor’s supervisor. Call the local police about any abuses.

    TSA’s own abuse / civil rights hotline (no doubt just an answering service that no one will listen to)
    TSA Office of Civil Rights – (571)227-1917
    TSA Office of Strategic Communications (Public Affairs) – (571)227-2829.

  • Glenn Fleishman

    Reading a ridiculous story in the New York Times this morning that took everything the TSA says at face value, I discover the non-law-enforcement TSA personnel earn about $13/hour ($26,000 per year), are coming from industries unrelated to security, receive pep talks that encourage them to treat every passenger as a potential bomber, and are embattled. Boo hoo. As long as security theater, instead of real security evaluation is underway, we’re going to be subject to idiots with fake badges (note article) that have no arrest authority, and make up rules on the spot.

  • Mike

    And you caved in like a typical spineless American.

    Or rather, Americant.

    Bravo. Now you are here ranting in your indignant rage. Way to ‘stick it to the man’.

    • Donna

      My sentiments exactly.

    • Reebcca

      Right. So, a person flying on a business trip must be willing to cancel everything, risk losing her job, in order to be able to be angry about a public agency run amuck? No wonder people hesitate to speak up, if you’re the example of support that they’ll be given.

    • Apple

      Do you blame rape victims too?

  • Devin Hughes

    Obviously these TSA goons, and not all of them are goons, aren’t hired on the basis of their knowledge but rather their lack of. It’s much easier to program a zombie than it is to program someone who is sympathetic to the current situation.

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  • http://twitter.com/Aloha_Analytics Mauibrad

    OPTING OUT OF THE PAT DOWN IS NOT AN OPTION, OPTING OUT OF THE RADIATING PORNO-SCANNER IS STILL AN OPTION. FROM A LEGAL LIABILITY STANDPOINT THEY STILL HAVE TO ALLOW YOU TO “OPT-OUT” OF THE PORNO-SCANNER, AND THAT IS STILL TSA POLICY. AS EXPECTED, SOME OF THE LOW LEVEL TSA SMURFS DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE LATEST DIRECTIVE FROM DC ON THIS. BTW, “OPT-OUT” IS A TSA TERM, YOU JUST TELL ‘EM YOU’RE NOT DOING THE FULL BODY SCANNER AND ARE WILLING TO RECEIVE THE PAT DOWN. IF THE SMURFS GIVE YOU A PROBLEM WITH THAT, CALL FOR A REAL LEO (LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER).

    • Devin Hughes

      So what you are saying is one cannot choose the porno scanner over a pat down?
      If you choose the scanner you still get the pat down? Or are you just saying there’s no opt out for pat down like there is for the scanner. Please clarify.

      • http://twitter.com/Aloha_Analytics Mauibrad

        @Devin,

        You can go through the porno scanner, but they can still surprise you with the demand of a pat down after the scanner. If you refuse the pat down, you cannot board the plane, have to leave the airport and not return that day, even if you passed through the porno scanner.

        Bottom line, you can still refuse the porno-scanner but you cannot refuse the pat down. You are allowed to refuse the porno-scanner because even TSA higher-ups know there is liability with the radiation from the scanners, so they have to be able to say that people had the option to refuse the scanners. People who accept the scanners are mostly unknowingly accepting the liability with that radiation from the scanners. That’s why the Pilots said Hell NO. The Pilots are smart cookies.

        • Devin Hughes

          OK so, depending on whatever, if they have their suspicions about something after you undergo Full Body Radiation exposure, they can then subject you to a bonus intimate padding down resulting in a two for one. Isn’t one or the other supposed to suffice?

  • Caroline Andrews

    As far as I can tell, TSA employees now have total power, much more power than even the police. They seem to be able to make up their own rules and do pretty much anything to you. No due process, no freedom of speech. I’m sure there are a lot of the TSA people who are just trying to do their jobs, and I’ve encountered many who are polite under what are difficult circumstances, but the ones inclined to be bullies (who I hope are in the minority) have now been given free rein to abuse innocent travelers.

  • Sun

    “How in modern America is this possible?”

    It’s possible because people like Kris do what they’re told anyway even after their futile objection… And the sheep still acts surprised by the results! Laughable.

    • Reebcca

      It’s possible because there are people like you who like to say that the problem is the result of the victim not standing up for themselves, instead of remembering that it’s the government on a power trip.

      • Blue

        Agreed. It’s only a symptom of the problem, but it’s very difficult to stand up against something like this knowing the consequence is to lose the way you pay for your house *and* that those very people who rail at you for not standing up are the same people who (for example only) also would not help you with your house payments when you lost your income. After all, if they won’t support you over such a simple matter as spreading the word about the indignation (and thus adding more ammunition to the cause) then why would they help when the going gets *truly* tough?

        This person tried to opt-out but in the end had to choose the scanner for the sake of their job. How about we use this story as another bit of EVIDENCE that things have went too far in our legal protests to put a stop to this? That’s why they told their story after all.

        And then, to further things along and be more productive, let’s start finding ways to get around that. Put out lists on other options to help people figure out ways to not fly. Put that sort of information out. Inform. Educate. Educate.

        I’ve carpooled to get cross-country before. That’s one option of many I’ve taken to avoid flying, because I couldn’t afford to fly.

        And more than that. Subtle legal activity that will let the government know that we will *always* have options.

        No fighting amongst ourselves allowed. Just a common unity to put a stop to this. That’s what we need. Those that would attack others in this (and I’m not pointing a single finger at anyone here) are like jackals at the back of a gazelle herd. Stop being jackals and use your horns to headbutt the real enemy.

  • Donna Mills

    EXACTLY! And yet so many citizens don’t seem to realize all the points you’ve detailed here. The TSA and Homeland UnSecurity are on a SERIOUS power trip and until the masses stand up to them, those of us who do will continue to be run rough-shod over and dared by them to do something about our trampled civil liberties.

  • Egor

    That’s against their own rules! Maybe a preemptive response to NOOD?

  • Robin

    >>“How in modern America is this possible?

    It’s possible because people like Kris do what they’re told anyway even after their futile objection… And the sheep still acts surprised by the results! Laughable.”

    The choices for someone who must fly as part of their job are to do as ordered, be arrested, or not fly and possibly be fired. In these difficult financial times most people donʻt have an option to quit their jobs or get fired.

    Would you make that choice if you had no other income and a family to support? Are you ready to go without an income? Are you ready to be arrested, spend time in jail and pay a fine for refusing to do as ordered?

    TSA well knows this, of course; itʻs designed this way to humiliate and force compliance.

    Since the government hires these thugs and supports them rather than us — and WE pay for it — and has little interest in the country, itʻs time for a big class action suit. Itʻs impossible to get most travelers let alone all travelers to revolt against this — and it would take a majority of travelers to do that for them to take this seriously. Thereʻs too much money to be made by people like Michael Chertoff for them to care what we say.

    • Connie

      Maybe companies need to rethink things. Taking your excellent arguement “The choices for someone who must fly as part of their job are to do as ordered, be arrested, or not fly and possibly be fired.” one step further, if one is required to fly as a condition of employment, and if down the road it is proven the body scanners are dangerous and are linked to causing X, Y, Z, are the companies liable? Especially if the employee has his/concerns about the scanners entered into his/her employee file? What about the female employee who has been sexually assaulted, her problems with a pat down and maybe “flashbacks” it could cause? We need business to support their employees well being.

      I heard this evening that Delta airlines will consider on a case by case basis refunding tickets if a customer has a problem during screening which causes them to not fly. I’m going to follow that closely and if that is the case, Delta will get all my airline ticket money.

      • Connie

        Here is the Delta link. I was incorrect on part of the refund. It applies only to passengers who have purchased tickets and want to cancel. They do nothing if during the screening process you are dealing with screeners that make you miserable and unable to continue.

        http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=12218183

    • John L

      No! The point is, we ALL have the right to opt-out of the scanner. IF you opt-out, you MUST be subjected to the grope frisk. At that point, you can’t even leave the security station without risking an $11,000 fine. If you opt-out of the scanner, you must submit to the grope.

      In Kris’ case he (she?) “tried” to opt-out but then got talked into doing the scanner anyway. Please read again carefully: We ALL have the RIGHT to opt-out of the scanner. Kris gave up that right; why would anyone do that?

      It’s like if you have the right to not incriminate yourself, but then the cops say “Go ahead & confess & we’ll try to go easy on you” so you confess. Why would you give up your right to silence? It’s the same thing with the scanner.

  • http://cynicalsynapse.wordpress.com Cynical Synapse

    I am not a proponent of full-body scanning or “enhanced” pat-downs, but I must acquiesce to the point flying is a privilege, not a right. Further, no one is required to fly. On that basis, TSA’s invasive screening methods do not violate the Fourth Amendment nor is the Constitution in jeopardy.

    Unfortunately, flying is often the most cost effective or time efficient method of travel. For me to travel from metro Detroit to Orlando would take 49 hours by train (from Toledo OH) or cost 3 times in mileage compared to flying. So, while I have “options,” I practically have no choice but to give in to security theater.

    • Jean

      In response to your comment that the full body scanner isn’t a violation of the 4th amendment because no one is required to fly…are you aware that putting these scanners into federal courthouses is currently being done, and the widespread use of them in courthouses is being considered?

      All it takes to compel someone to pass through a scanner will be a subpoena, or a bit of business that can only be done by entering the courthouse.

      And why are MY comments being moderated when I saw attacks on Kris by Mike and Sun?

      • Donna

        What do you mean you saw attacks on Kris by Mike and Sun? You mean their opinions are considered attacks? Are you the stooly of the board?

        • Oh please

          Quit defending your little victim-blaming bully group. Calling someone sheep and spineless are attacks, not opinions.

  • http://sailornot.blogspot.com/ Sandra

    Excuse me? Flying is not a right? Says who? If I have the money then I have the right to fly. Last time I looked, the “right to move freely upon the land” was part of the constitution (of Canada, anyway).

  • Jean

    WHY are some of you attacking Kris? The name calling is unnecessary! My God I expected better from those of you who’re willing to take up this fight.

    Kris did mention traveling for business. How many of you who are castigating Kris can afford to lose your jobs over THIS FIGHT?

    Please remember that Kris isn’t the enemy. Kris was abused by the bullies we call TSA. Stop acting like bullies.

    • Kyle

      Just like those “TSA bullies” have a choice, so does Kris. A traveling businessman can get a job as a non-traveling businessman, but he chooses not to for the sake of convenience. That is why the TSA can get away with this at all–because we Americans always choose convenience over accountability. That IS the problem, and ignoring that fact accomplishes nothing.

      • Tom

        “A traveling businessman can get a job as a non-traveling businessman, but he chooses not to for the sake of BEING EMPLOYED.”

        FTFY.

      • Blue

        It’s not that easy to get a job in this day and age, y’know? What if Kris is past that glorious age and in the older age where it’s hard to find a job, much less a new one? In business especially,… I shudder when I remember that cutthroat way of life. Glad I didn’t stick in it.

  • Reebcca

    Awesome victim-blaming going on here.

    Congratulations to those of you on your high horses who could just casually choose to break a business trip or lose the money that went into the plane ticket, but for most people, a last-minute cancellation is not an option.

    Question: How does “Sun”‘s comment not violate the “NO personal attacks” rule?

  • http://GeorgeDonnelly.com George Donnelly

    What Sun posted is a very mild criticism IMHO. I think people are being too hard on Kris. And it’s self-destructive to make our fellow peaceful people feel bad because they were thrust into a situation they were unprepared for. This is a learning experience for all of us. Let us help each other to learn more quickly and not needlessly cut each other to pieces.

  • Thomas

    I think maybe we should have passive protesters warning people of the dangers of the extra radiation that TSA is exposing them to. Then more and more people will op-out if they are informed, because the dumb shits in TSA won’t tell them. I don’t know why the making a big deal about it since I could fly in from another major airport like LAS if they want to get past the porno scanner with something not allowed. Besides they say it to keep things from happening or getting past security but TSA is only reacting to past threats, but as we all know everyone that has made it past security or the 911 peoples figured out what we weren’t checking for and got by that way.

    • denny

      tsa HAS published the radiation info, it says that the radiation dose is equivalent to that which you would recieve from eating half a banana, or two minutes of flight time, both of which, evidently, expose you to radiation.
      whether you believe it or not, you can’t say they haven’t posted it.
      what I want to know is why they haven’t posted teh printer confiscation? and no, it is NOT “voluntary abandoned”. you will not get your printer cartridge back if they take it. or your whole printer, if you don’t know how to remove the cartridge.
      and it doesn’t matteer whether you have it in checked bags or carry on.
      WTF? why isn’t THAT posted?

  • http://GeorgeDonnelly.com George Donnelly

    That’s what hundreds of people are doing at 27 airports around the country right now. See the opt out day page on this website.

    • Thomas

      I don’t if you’ve been watching the news but everyone is not opting-out. And TSA has nothing posted about the radation that they are exposing poeple to.

  • denny

    OK, some facts here, to clear up some misconceptions.
    first of all, you’ve been juked by TSA
    Kris was NOT told to leave the AIRPORT, he was told to leave the CHECKPOINT and go to the back of the line.
    This was a specific TSA tactic developed to curb the protests while allowing normal travelers to pass through checkpoint unhindered. the protesters would be allowed any of number of trips through the line, but would not be allowed to fly until they complied. This was based on the knowledge that most protestors wanted to make a scene, not be personally inconvenienced.
    To address the paygrade, most screeners are sv-1800 band E or higher, so no, they are not making $26,000, more like $44k+ not bad for a little nut groping.
    sometimes i wonder if we’re on the right side of this equation

  • Pingback: the great TSA OMG WTF link roundup of… well, today « modchen dot com

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