Your Friendly TSA Agent Is About To Get A Lot Friendlier

TSA groin search

If you thought your last pat-down at the airport was bad enough, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Because the new “screenings” done by the Transportation Security Administration are going to get a lot more “intimate.”

In the past, agents had five options for patting down travelers who refused the body imaging or were pulled out of line at random. Now there’s just one – and it’s pretty bad.

They haven’t said exactly how bad it is, but you know it’s going to be uncomfortable when they tell you it is.

It’s like going to the dentist and instead of saying “This won’t hurt a bit,” he tells you “Friend, this is going to hurt.” You know it’s bad.

One upside? “The new protocol does not mandate the touching of passengers genitals.” (But notice the word “mandate” there. It doesn’t mean they’re not going to do it.)

This all stems from a 2015 internal investigation that showed an unbelievable 95 percent failure rate in their screening process. The TSA allowed undercover agents to successfully and repeatedly smuggle mock explosives, knives, and other banned weapons through checkpoints at America’s airports.

The new screening process – quietly made to agents this week – warned them that their new method “may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before,” Bloomberg reports, and making passengers uncomfortable.

“I would say people who in the past would have gotten a pat-down that wasn’t involved will notice that the [new] pat-down is more involved,” TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson said Friday. The shift from the previous, risk-based assessment on which pat-down procedure an officer should apply was phased in over the past two weeks after tests at smaller airports, he said.

The new policy also applies to pilots and crew members who usually receive less scrutiny at checkpoints.

The TSA screens 2 million passengers per day at airports around the country. They won’t say how many random searches are done after a passenger passes through one of their imaging scanners, but did say anyone who refuses the scanner gets the “deeper” inspection.

The TSA said the more invasive pat-downs will still be done by an agent of the same sex, and if they like, passengers can request a private area for the screening or have a witness present.

Back in December, CNN commentator Angela Rye wrote about her encounter at an airport with TSA agents. Titled “Dear TSA: The country is not safer because you grab vaginas,” it detailed the correspondent’s “humiliation” during a pat-down. She wrote in graphic detail about the pat down of her genitals during a search at the Detroit airport before a New York flight.



Robert Gehl

About Robert Gehl

Robert Gehl is a college professor in Phoenix, Arizona. He has over 15 years journalism experience, including two Associated Press awards. He lives in Glendale with his wife and two young children.