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TSA Swabbing Fliers’ Hands For Explosives During ‘Chat Downs’

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Journalist details ordeal at hands of ‘behavioral detection officer’

Steve Watson
Aug 23, 2012

A Michigan journalist suffering from a facial disability has described his treatment at the hands of a TSA behavioral detection officer as “frightening”, after he was detained and swabbed for explosives following a refusal to tell the agent what his business was on a domestic trip from Detroit to Grand Rapids.

Steve Gunn of The Muskegon Chronicle notes that he was approached by a female TSA agent at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and asked where he was going and why.

Gunn takes up the story…

“I’m headed home,” I replied.

Then she wanted to know where home was. That’s when the mental alarms went off and I realized I was being interrogated by Big Brother in drag.

I asked her why the federal government needed to know where I was going and what I would be doing. She explained that the questions were part of a new security “pilot program.”

Gunn then admonished the agent that he is a law biding American citizen and that his movement and business within the country is not restricted or beholden to the whims of the federal government.

“…we live in a free country where innocent people are supposedly protected from unwarranted government intrusion and harassment.” Gunn added.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The journalist then notes that the TSA agent yelled “WE HAVE ANOTHER REFUSAL” for all within ear shot to hear.

It has been previously noted that TSA agents purposefully resort to public humiliation tactics by yelling “WE HAVE AN OPT-OUT” when passengers request not to walk through body scanners.

“One of my bags was seized and I was momentarily detained and given a hand-swab, which I believe was to test for residue from bomb-making materials.” Gunn writes.

“I passed the bomb test and was told I could move on, but I hung around a moment and told everyone within listening range what I thought about this terrifying experience.” he adds.

In the wake of the recent furor over the claims that the TSA is using such so called “chat downs” to conduct racial profiling, Gunn’s case presents another interesting angle.

The writer notes that he believes the reason he was stopped by the behavioral detection officer was because he has “been suffering from a condition called “Bell’s palsy,” which includes temporary paralysis of all the muscles on one side of my face. I can’t smile, and the condition makes me look even grumpier than usual.”

The TSA does train its officers to look for out of the ordinary “facial expressions” as indicators of potential security risks.

“I suppose the government figures that grumpy looking people with droopy faces are potential terrorists.” Gunn suggests. “God help any stroke victims who try to travel. If they suffer from paralysis beyond their face they may be detained and questioned for weeks.”

As USA Today reported last week, the TSA’s Behavioral profiling program at Boston Logan has not proved at all effective. Out of 725,000 Logan travelers over the past year, just a fraction were referred for further screening, even less were referred to law enforcement, only a handful were charged with anything and not one single terrorist suspect was apprehended.

“TSA had to talk to 2,217 travelers, on average, to spot one who merited law enforcement attention. Not exactly a big reward for all that trouble and expense.” the report notes.

Urging his readers to call their representatives and tell them that the TSA “chat down” program should be scrapped, Steve Gunn notes “This program is a bizarre and outlandish violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is supposed to protect us from “unreasonable search and seizure” by agents of the government, unless they have probable cause.”


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

This article was posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 9:14 am

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