Monday, July 27, 2009

I asked again, ‘Okay. I would like to see the guidelines governing this discretion. That way I’ll know how to prepare for security in the future, as I did with your rules on shoes, water, liquid baby formula…’

She snapped back, ‘we have unlimited discretion. There are no rules. And we don’t have to answer your questions…’

I didn’t move, and I repeated my question, and added ‘Unlimited discretion? You mean you can also take us in and do a cavity search based on this discretion? This sounds like unlimited authority, and as a citizen, as a taxpayer, I have the right to know…’

At this point she took out her radio and called the airport police while I stood there looking and listening in disbelief. When two uniformed local airport police showed up, the TSA supervisor told them, ‘This lady insists on seeing our internal rules and classified procedures. I believe she poses a threat at this point and would like to have you either arrest her or keep her under observation until we decide to clear her for travel…’

That’s right. As a petite 5’4, 105 pound mother with an infant I was either being placed under arrest or observation as a security threat because I dared to question my rights and my government’s rules on security screening of its citizens.

The police officer, a gentlemanly young man, looked disgusted with the TSA supervisor. He turned to me and said,

‘Ma’am, why don’t you stop asking these questions and just proceed to your gate? We don’t want to be forced to act on this.’

I calmly responded, ‘Officer, I will proceed as soon as I am provided with an answer. If this is a cause for arrest now, and if you think you can back it up with probable cause, then please go ahead. You know and I know that this is not lawful.’

At the end of the security screening belt, as these events were unfolding, people were rushing past us towards their gates. Most of them were avoiding eye contact; maybe it was too much for them to actual see the reality and the state of their mobility on display before them. Some were shooting quick wondering glances. A very few brave ones actually slowed down or paused to whisper things like, ‘This is disgusting,’ or ‘they have no right to treat people like this,’ or, ‘this is a shame,’…

The TSA supervisor, seeing that her bluff did not have the desired effect and a bit nervously, changed her tune,

‘All we are doing is protecting you and everyone else from the terrorists. These procedures, these measures, are all for your own good; for your own safety.’


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