Investigate the TSA, Not the Guy Who Refused to Go Through Its ‘Porno Scanners’

by on November 17, 2010 · 14 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Health, San Diego



(These images depict what the TSA sees when air passengers are subjected to full-body scans using millimeter wave technology and / or backscatter X-rays.)


The TSA is opening an investigation targeting John Tyner, who recieved an aggressive “pat down” at the airport when he refused to go through with the TSA’s ‘porno scanners’

By Jane Hamsher / AlterNet / November 16, 2010

Sign the petition demanding Congress investigate the TSA’s porno scanners, aggressive groping, and abuses of power.

[Editor: go to original article for all the excellent and numerous links.]

The TSA is opening an investigation targeting John Tyner, the man who earned himself an aggressive “pat down” at the airport when he refused to go through the TSA’s new AIT “porno scanners.”

But it’s the TSA that should be investigated, not Tyner.

Tyner was now allowed board his flight after he refused to allow himself to be groped, and now he could face both prosecution and a fine of $11,000.But his real crime was making the “don’t touch my junk” video showing exactly what happened during his encounter with the TSA, which sparked a public backlash.

The new pat-down policy for refuseniks, which started on November 1, has been described by the Airline Pilots Association as “sexual molestation” — and it’s nothing more than a way to punish people who might boycott the Department of Homeland Security’s expensive new boondoggle scanners. And prosecuting Tyner is blatant and very public way to intimidate anyone who might follow his lead. This goes to show just how how constant threats of “terror” are used to create new markets for products nobody needs. The public is then intimidated into compliance in the name of “national security,” when in reality they’re sacrificing their dignity, their civil liberties and their tax dollars for the sake of enormous profits:

  • 2005: Michael Chertoff, as head of Homeland Security, orders the first batch of porno scanners from a company called Rapiscan Systems. After his departure, Chertoff gave dozens of interviews using his government credentials to promote the device. What he didn’t tell people was that Rapiscan was one of the clients of his consulting company, The Chertoff group.
  • March 2009: The Department of Homeland Security says they will apply $1 billion in stimulus money to the nation’s airports. Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, personally promises to oversee the distribution of stimulus funds so money goes toward the goal of creating “4 million jobs” and not on “boondoggles”
  • December 2009: Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz inserted language into the Homeland Security appropriations bill barring the use of full-body image scans as “primary” screening tools at airports, and it passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 310-118. Both the ACLU and the NRA backed it. The amendment also made it illegal to store and copy these images. It died in the Senate.
  • December 25, 2009: The “Christmas bomber” attempts to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board a flight to Detroit.
  • December 29, 2009: Joe Lieberman calls for “more widespread use of the full-body scanners after the aborted attack.”
  • January 2010: Since they couldn’t get money for the porno scanners from Congress, TSA uses the “Christmas bomber” scare to appropriate $25 million they had received in stimulus money to buy the “backscatter” scanners — from Rapiscan, Chertoff’s client. Rapiscan said the contract “helped create” 25 jobs. The government gives the TSA the green light to spend a total of $173 million on the scanners. TSA spokesperson Sarah Horowitz said “the agency has enough funds that would come from the stimulus program and other federal sources” to purchase 300 more porno scanners, per CNN. Total jobs created, per the government’s own website: 1.
  • April 2010: The GAO reports that “it remains unclear whether the AIT would have detected the weapon used in the December 2009 incident based on the preliminary information GAO has received.”
  • November 8, 2010: US Airline Pilots Association tells its members “NOT to submit to AIT screenings.”
  • November 15, 2010: Joe Lieberman says he “comes down on the side of the patdowns.”

The last thing the TSA needs is a pile of crappy technology that isn’t even effective, that people refuse to use, right?

So the “groping” technique was developed as a way to punish people into using the scanners — because there are $148 million more on the way. And just so nobody gets the idea to follow Tyner’s lead, the TSA is using threats and intimidation to guarantee the market for the porno scanners. Whether Tyner is prosecuted or not, people will hear about what happened to him and think twice before refusing to become fodder for their new machines.

This is a full-on outrage. It’s time to investigate the TSA, not Tyner. Sign the petition demanding Congress investigate the TSA’s porno scanners, aggressive groping, and abuses of power.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Abby November 17, 2010 at 9:46 am

I really don’t mind the scanners, but I can’t get a straight answer on how bad the radiation is.


avatar Old Hermit Dave November 17, 2010 at 10:13 am

The TSA and the Fatherland Security BOZOS are very similar to the CIA, very scary government agencies. A free country should not have any branch of government that doesn’t answer to the people. The secret stuff is pure crap.


avatar doug porter November 17, 2010 at 2:16 pm

the scanners are made by L3 Communications (based in New York) which has an office in Carlsbad. it was a very FAT gov’t contract.


avatar JEC November 18, 2010 at 8:21 am

L3 Communications has operations in Australia, England, Canada and the Middle East (UAE). Now exactly where were those machines constructed and who supplied the materials – since the U.S. no longer employees technical machinists.


avatar Dallas November 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm

It’s interesting that it takes this sorta hoopla to drive national attention. But the problem of aggressive searches has been an issue for awhile. I went through San Diego International on a short one plane hop to Las Vegas last year. I had one carry on suitcase and my laptop bag. Being former military who used to work security details often, I knew that a pat down search would be somewhat intrusive. So I dressed comfortably, wearing flip-flops, some khaki cargo shorts, and a t-shirt as to avoid any speculation that I would have something dangerous under my clothes. The only metal on my person was the belt and buttons on the shorts.

When it comes to my laptop, I don’t trust the scanners. I’ve heard horror stories from other computer professionals that while the odds are limited, there’s still a chance of the scanner debunking your computer’s BIOS system (the small bit of hardwired memory that is the brain of your system). So I kindly asked for a hand search of my laptop bag.

There was no line (only a few people who were waved forward) and three TSA agents who tried to convince me that it was “no big deal”. For the amount of time they resisted doing the hand search, they could have completed it. I (still peaceably, mind you) stood my ground and asked for them to do a hand search. I pleaded to them that if something happened to my laptop that not only was my reason for flying useless, but that alot of my hard work would be destroyed.

The TSA agent responded to this request by radioing her supervisor who a few moments later comes from behind a partition and all but not-so-kindly grabbed me by the arm and asked me come with him behind the partition where another female agent was also. It was there where he asked me to strip down to my boxer shorts and then proceeded to “feel me up” all under the watchful eye of his female partner.

After she searched my khaki cargo shorts, she asked for my identification. Of which I replied that it were at the conveyor with my wallet, cell phone, money, and keys. She steps around the partition for what seemed like more than about two or three minutes (much longer than I think it should have taken). When she returned, she rifled through my wallet and found my ID and gave it to the supervisor.

The supervisor looked at the ID and my itinerary to”confirm” my identity. He then got a clipboard and began to write my name, ID number, and some other information on the clipboard. When I asked why I was treated this way, he smuggly stated that I was acting “suspicious”.

By acting suspicious, does that include exercising my right to a hand search? I wanted to ask this but by this point I was already humiliated and coming close to missing my non-refundable flight. So I chose to gather my belonging and get dressed again to by shoved off without even a sorry or explanation of what (and where) the information they took down was.


avatar Sarah November 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Dallas, my extreme bias against TSA began long ago and was cemented in 2008 when I was forced to be mauled by TSA agents as a condition of my job, given that I travelled for a living and I had a metal knee installed.

To be honest, I’m finally feeling vindicated. I can’t tell you how many times people have accused me of over-reacting, of being “weak on security”. I was “being a baby” about not wanting people to “touch” me. None of those people had to undergo the pat downs that I had to endure weekly, but now they can share the humiliation.

Our country is upside down, backwards and inside out.


avatar Abby November 18, 2010 at 8:54 am

Sarah, I know how you feel. People have been telling me to just shut up and do what I was told for years! Now they are starting to see that we were right, but is it too late?

I’m really worried about flying now, I have numerous body piercings as well as 6 pins and 2 steel plates.


avatar annagrace November 17, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Dallas- the words “….he smugly stated that I was acting ‘suspicious.'” are so horrifyingly chilling to me. That is my nightmare, that any civil question or request for permitted alternative intervention places a citizen in the “suspicious” category. If we don’t lower our heads, voices and pants and Obey, we must be un-American. In collusion with the bad guys. Capable of anything. That is the subtext and it is deadly for a democracy.


avatar Marilyn Steber November 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Does this story sound familiar? I was selected for search the first day we could fly again after the 9-11 attack. I was on a US Air plane that day that was ordered to land in Houston, I think it was. Three days of non- stop watching the planes crash into the Towers…Arrgh.
I didn’t know I was supposed to get everything searched after getting my boarding pass, and was on the plane to SD when the TSA came aboard and pulled me off .
Now, I’m a bit over retirement age and I’d consolidated everything I had used for the month I was gone into two checked bags, and then carried my hatbox on the plane. I had a civil war costume with a big hat for the DUV convention, and flew down to tour Shiloh battlefield. Nevertheless, I was considered a risk.
I waited another ten hours for the next flight to California. I landed up in Ontario California and rented a car to drive home to OB. I’ve flown a couple more times since then but I won’t any more. My old mother in Birmingham, AL will be buried without my presence if I have to fly.
The terrorists have won.
PS. GO SEE FAIR GAME THE MOVIE. It’s at the Hillcrest Cinema.


avatar annagrace November 17, 2010 at 6:35 pm
avatar rak November 17, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Part of the “agreement” to participate in this method of security investigation is that the images are not to be saved or stored. A recent ZDNet article reminds us that it’s possible that this promise may not always be kept: U.S. Marshals in a Florida Federal courthouse saved 35,000 images from a similar class of scanner, a Brijot Imaging Systems, Inc. Gen 2 millimeter scanner. Article at:
TSA literature claims that these functions are disabled on equipment delivered to TSA sites:


avatar Jon November 18, 2010 at 9:11 am

Brett Favre to TSA, “Go ahead, touch my junk.”


avatar Old Hermit Dave November 19, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I have a question. Are there any TSA employees with an IQ above room temperature? People who could just look at GRANDMAS over 75 and just say OK, never mind the legal groping, just get on the plane.


avatar Lauren November 20, 2010 at 6:19 pm

all of these stories remind me of the time me and my mother tried to fly to disney land about a year ago for my birthday. My mother has had a double knee replacement and work done on both legs and has trouble getting around. And when wearing shorts you can ‘clearly’ see huge raised scars on both legs. We always dress rather simply for flights, flip flops, sweat pants on shorts and tshirts with little baggage. I don’t even bring my laptop 99% of the time, I should also mention that my mother has a hard time getting around, she is larger and limps quite a bit and uses and chair from time to time. its very evedient that she is older and has leg problems.

On that note we where taken aside once for a ‘check’ and pat down. After so called ‘failing’ the metal detector my mother was taken aside and made it sit in a chair behind a screen, I sat in one next to her and was told I passed and did not need to be pat down. It had happened before so my mother very nicely told the man she had metle in her knees, and made sure to check if she had forgoten anything in her pocket, as she tried to stand to check them an officer said she would be ‘forcefuly’ detained if she tried to leave the area again and to remain seated. When all she was doing was looking for any lose objects she may have forgoten to remove before the check, after telling the man that was what she was doing.

After almost an hour of running my mother over with there hands and scanners they needed to conferm that she did have metal in her knees with her doctor and we sat even longer, mssing our flight until they got intouch with him and he confemrend everything. They sent us on our way, without even a simple sorry. We where also moved from room to room, talking to different people as we tried to sort things out, my mother asked for a chair or at least somthing to walk with which she was ‘refused’ an officer simply said ‘he was not allowed’ to give her one, and refused to give us a full answer as to why my handicaped mother could not sit in a weel chair rather then limping around on demand.

I was outraged and flat out discusted by the officers. People like them are the worst!

(forgive my spelling!)


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