Tech Dirt 
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Think the complaints about the TSA are beginning to reach a tipping point? There’s a whole bunch of new news on this front, starting with a California district attorney saying that he’s ready to charge TSA agents with sexual assault  if evidence is presented that the new pat downs go too far (apparently multiple DAs  are now saying this).
Hopefully, some other DAs are willing to do the same, because some are ready and willing to file sexual assault charges. Richard Kulawiec points us to the news of how a nursing mother in Dayton feels she was sexually assaulted by the TSA . Contrary to claims from the TSA, she was not informed that her private parts would be touched (repeatedly, from the sound of it). She was not given the option of having it happen in a private area. And, she notes, this was not about her refusal to go through a full body backscatter scanner, since those aren’t even in operation at that airport. The account is pretty chilling as the woman is clearly quite troubled by the experience (as she should be).
Separately, reports are coming out that TSA agents are not screened for psychological problems . In fact, the process doesn’t take much at all:
TSA doesn’t require much at all, it turns out. This government agency-gone-wild performs a background check to weed out applicants who are convicted felons, but TSA does not test at all for applicants’ psychological soundness.
These are low-wage government employees granted full authority to touch passengers however they like. There is no indication that TSA agents have selectively abused their authority, but as with all government programs: If there are no checks in place to limit power, authority will be abused. Forget racial profiling; if there no limits to officials’ power, what would stop them from claiming the most attractive powers need a more thorough patdown?
In fact, it’s so silly that the parody video below, of a “porn-addict applying for a job at the TSA” really doesn’t seem all that far-fetched these days:
Meanwhile, a Congressman from Florida is telling airports they should ditch the TSA  and find alternative options for security — and it appears that Orlando Airport has decided to do exactly that . Of course, I’m not convinced that private security agents will be any better, and they still have to follow TSA guidelines, so I’m not sure it’ll really make that much of a difference. But it does show the level to which lots of folks are fed up.
That said, apparently legislators in New Jersey and Idaho have introduced legislation banning the naked body scanners  (oh and in New York as well ). Of course, I’m sure the TSA will just claim that in the absence of the machines, they’ll just have to do more groping.
As for the TSA? Well, it’s still trying to defend its position. Its latest is to claim that 130 prohibited, illegal or dangerous items  have been kept off airplanes in the past year. What, like nail clippers and bottles of water? Where are the actual details? What has been caught? Who has been arrested? What happened to them?