More Tales of Keeping Us Safe at Airports

The TSA's crusade to fondle whomever they please continues.

Via KVUE:  Woman arrested at ABIA after refusing enhanced pat down

Claire Hirschkind, 56, who says she is a rape victim and who has a pacemaker-type device implanted in her chest, says her constitutional rights were violated.  She says she never broke any laws.  But the Transportation Security Administration disagrees.

Hirschkind was hoping to spend Christmas with friends in California, but she never made it past the security checkpoint.

“I can’t go through because I have the equivalent of a pacemaker in me,” she said.

Hirschkind said because of the device in her body, she was led to a female TSA employee and three Austin police officers.  She says she was told she was going to be patted down.

“I turned to the police officer and said, ‘I have given no due cause to give up my constitutional rights.  You can wand me,'” and they said, ‘No, you have to do this,'” she said.

Hirschkind agreed to the pat down, but on one condition.

“I told them, ‘No, I’m not going to have my breasts felt,’ and she said, ‘Yes, you are,'” said Hirschkind.

When Hirschkind refused, she says that “the police actually pushed me to the floor, (and) handcuffed me.  I was crying by then.  They drug me 25 yards across the floor in front of the whole security.”

An ABIA spokesman says it is TSA policy that anyone activating a security alarm has two options.  One is to opt out and not fly, and the other option is to subject themselves to an enhanced pat down.  Hirschkind refused both and was arrested.

There has to be a better way than this.

Back in November, when the new “enhanced pat-down” policies were introduced I wrote:

The bottom line is that Americans, in general, are scared of the possibility of another terrorist attack and therefore are going to be willing, in general, to do almost anything that they think will “keep us safe.”

Along those lines, I would note the following:

Other travelers KVUE talked to say they empathize with Hirschkind, but the law is the law.

“I understand her side of it, and their side as well, but it is for our protection so I have no problems with it,” said Gwen Washington, who lives in Killeen.

“It’s unfortunate that that happened and she didn’t get to fly home, but it makes me feel a little safer,” said Emily Protine.

The TSA did release a statement Wednesday that said in part, “Our officers are trained to treat all passengers with dignity and respect. Security is not optional.”

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. John Smallberries says:

    Why am I not surprised that Texans would respond in the way they did? The residents combine a strong libertarian streak with an ability to look the other way when an innocent man may have been put to death.

    Pants wetters who want to be left alone. The kind of people who will allow bad things to be done in their names as long as it does not affect them.

    We have gone from nanny state to wussy state, and the people who complained about nanny statism don’t seem to see that they are one and the same.

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Seems the TSA hires people with hands to grope with but there is no requirement for brains to reason with. If security is the aim, what were the indications a 50 something female flying from one location in the US to another, with the probablity of a return flight is a security risk? Where is the ACLU in all of this. Show a cross at a school and they gather like flies, yet when someones rights are truely violated by a over zealous government agent they are no where to be seen. What we need to do is to put these perps pictures on the internet. Make those cops and TSA goons famous.

  3. ALP says:

    @ John Smallberries – It appears that you really dislike Texans! What about people from other states that have complained about the “pat-downs”. Do you hate them too. Other States have also executed “innocent men”. That doesn’t mean the people of Texas condone such actions.

    I also don’t like the aggressive “pat-downs” but, if I am going to fly at these times I will accept it. I don’t know of any other way to insure some “Crazy person” or others might develop a device that cannot be detected with our present technology.

    Maybe if we all walked thru the scanners naked you would be satisfied. “That would be a sight”

  4. Terin says:

    ““It’s unfortunate that that happened and she didn’t get to fly home, but it makes me feel a little safer,”

    Another American fascist falling for the latest security theater production.

  5. Davebo says:

    “Why am I not surprised that Texans would respond in the way they did? The residents combine a strong libertarian streak”

    You obviously know nothing at all about either Texans, or the concept of Libertarianism. Where was that guy from that authorized torture, warrantless wiretaps, and indefinite detention without due process?

    And where was his boss from again?

    I hate to break such devastating news to you on Christmas Eve, but Libertarianism is about a lot more than just bitching about taxes.

  6. superdestroyer says:

    OK,

    For all of the people who want to end airport security, what should TSA do when someone sets off the metal detector? Let them talk their way past it? Ignore it? Just get rid of the metal detectors all together?

    It would be helpful is the anti-TSA types would say what they really want instead of just nitpick at TSA.

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    If someone has a pacemaker, there is probably some indication they do. Such as scars or a lump where it is. Groping breasts seems unnecessary to find the obvious. Hence the statement about hands but no brains. I beginning to suspect progressives are defending this groping because, well, they just like to be touched in certain places and no body wants to touch them of their own free will so they will get the government to do it for them. If I were touched inappropriately, in my opinion. If some lame touched my balls, I would bust his head. Jail be damed, that guy would think twice before he did it again.

  8. superdestroyer says:

    It is amazing that people who have eithered mouthed off to TSA security or brag that they would assault TSA personnel ever claim that the U.S. should profile people. Are people so stupid to believe that anyone who insults or mouths off to TSA employees are not going to be screened.

    Once again, someone needs to explain how they believe security should work. If you set off the metal detector or have items under their clothes, what is TSA suppose to believe.

    When did the U.S. become a country where we believe the rules are for other people but not for themselves. Have we becvome a country that is so dominate by nitpickign attormeys that we believe that we are exempt from all rules?

  9. tom p says:

    A wealth of nits to pick…

    >”she was led to a female TSA employee and three Austin police officers. She says she was told she was going to be patted down.
    “I turned to the police officer and said, ‘I have given no due cause to give up my constitutional rights. You can wand me,’” and they said, ‘No, you have to do this,’” she said.
    Hirschkind agreed to the pat down, but on one condition.
    “I told them, ‘No, I’m not going to have my breasts felt,’ and she said, ‘Yes, you are,’” said Hirschkind.When Hirschkind refused, she says that “the police actually pushed me to the floor, (and) handcuffed me. I was crying by then. They drug me 25 yards across the floor in front of the whole security.”

    Awww pooorrrrr baby….

    Let me guess… she was white wasn’t she? (and before any idiots ask “What does that have to do with it?” I will point out that I have seen dozens of blacks given this kind of treatment on the sides of roads… But, she is special????? No. She just happens to be white.

    ZRIII: If you don’t have any thing of substance to say….. aaaahhhh never mind.

    “You obviously know nothing at all about either Texans, or the concept of Libertarianism. Where was that guy from that authorized torture, warrantless wiretaps, and indefinite detention without due process?”

    Davebo, I know quite a bit about Texans (I was born there and still have relatives there), and Smallberries has them down pat. Your second sentence (were you being sarcastic???)(If so, I apologize) proves all that he said.

    So how long have any of you been members of the ACLU? (ZRIII, JJ already posted about where the ACLU is on all this, if you weren’t such an idiot, you would already know) Me? 10+ years. I wish I could say 20+ years, but I was poor in my 30’s.

    And for the record… Why do all get so upset now? This shit has been happening for a 150 yrs…. NOW, All of a sudden… it is a problem????

    Really guys, how stupid (naive)(willfully blind) do you have to be?

    Do you want to know how you can tell a black man has been pulled over (especially in the suburbs)???? Count the # of cop cars pulled up behind him. Is there a K-9 car? He is black (or brown)…

    Do the math….

  10. tom p says:

    >”When did the U.S. become a country where we believe the rules are for other people but not for themselves. ”

    SD, as much as I hate to admit it, you bring up a valid point.

    The answer to your question is 150 years ago. (actually that is wrong, it was 150 years ago that a rather large segment of our population decided to FIGHT for that particular proposition…

  11. Robert C. says:

    To all those willing to get groped by TSA agents for “safety” remember that the “shoe bomber” and the “underpants bomber” should have never walked on a plane ,if our intel and State Depts had their acts togethur. The “shoe bomber” had a UK passport from Belgium. Red Flag. The “underware bomber” had a one-way ticket purchased with cash. Red flag….9 years after 9/11. Further, his father went to a US embassy in Africa to warn them of his sons criminal tendancies.

    Further, if I recall, at least one of the 19 9/11 terrorists was on a no-fly list.

    We spend all this $$ and effort on screening at the gate. What a waiste.

    People have been “packing” herion and cocaine into this country for years..decades? Put the drug in a condom, swallow it if put it up your rectum. At some point, someone will do the same with explosives.

    Will we all then allow cavity searches, DREs (digital rectal exam)??

    Osama is laughing in a cave.

  12. superdestroyer says:

    Robert,

    Are you proposing that intelligence can lead to airports doing away with metal detectors and that all terrorist plots can be detected.

    Unless you propose doing away with metal detectors, then TSA needs a procedure of what to do when someone sets off the detector. Or are you going to argue that whites should be able to walk around the detectors but Arabs or blacks have to go through?

  13. Dwight says:

    The old policy seemed to work well. Set off the metal detector, ask about anything they may have forgotten. Let them go back through if they have anything they can send through the x-ray machine. Wand them and check out the individual area setting off the metal detector to see if there is anything to be worried about. The scanners do not offer any more protection than that.

    The TSA has had two recent big misses. They missed a loaded .40 calibre handgun in a man’s hand luggage. They also missed a 12 inch razor that one of the Mythbusters had. There was a report leaked that said the TSA failed between 70-100% of the time when tested.

    I’m all for real security. We shouldn’t get rid of the screening, if nothing else so agents can look for unordinary behavior. However it shouldn’t come at the cost we are being asked when it adds no value. The two big things that have made the skies safer are reinforced cockpit doors and passengers know to fight back instead of sitting out the hijacking. Experts believe that the scanners could have missed the underwear bomber, so not a great last defense. Chemists think the liquid ban is misguided.

  14. anjin-san says:

    This seems like the logical conclusion to the hysterical response after the “Christmas Bomber” incident.

    If we stop using airline security as a political football, perhaps we can get some solid policy in place…

  15. matt says:

    I love how superdestroyer is an all or nothing guy which explains his completely crazy view on the races. Anyway what people are trying to say is that comprehensive security consisting of multiple layers would be a lot more effective then the security kabuki we have right now. Considering that the scanners have missed such blatant objects as fully loaded guns I don’t have much confidence in them seeing petn in pancakes on a person. I’d be happy to see the scanners replaced by the old fashioned metal detection method and some good ol fashioned police work…

  16. superdestroyer says:

    Matt,

    But if the metal detectors go off, what is TSA suppose to do if the person refuses a pat down.
    Is TSA suppose to just take people at their word.

    What people have to realize is that real security is a pain in the ass. Just try visiting the White House or a chemical weapons depot to find out what a pain it is.

  17. marvinlzinn says:

    This treatment is 100% WRONG in ALL circumstances!

    The police should have been arrested instead of this woman. I hope she can find a lawyer to sue them, and maybe both TSA and the federal government who approves it.

    The solution to security is to hire Israel to do it their way. I don’t care what anyone says about discrimination, theirs works! I went through a couple hours of repeat questions for my first El Al trip to Israel, and missed the flight for it. But I did understand the reason, and very much enjoyed several trips to Israel afterwards with better safety than I could ever get in the United States with all this worse than nonsense we have now.

    marvin

  18. matt says:

    “But if the metal detectors go off, what is TSA suppose to do if the person refuses a pat down.
    Is TSA suppose to just take people at their word.”

    I said nothing about changing the rules in relation to the metal detectors I was touting the complete ineffectiveness of the body scanners.

    Obviously the response to your hypothetical depends upon the person. The person in the article could be wanded to confirm the pacemaker and be sent on her way. If the person refuses to be wanded then they can get their baggage and walk home.

    Marvinlzinn : WE couldn’t afford the costs associated with the methods Israel uses. They have one airport and it’s nowhere near as busy as the large American airports. Personally I think training explosive sniffing dogs would be a much more cost effective option (ready supply of cheap dogs at the local animal shelter)..

  19. matt says:

    Okay I was wrong they have more then one airport. I’ve only ever heard of one used for international 🙁

    Ben Gurion International Airport had 10.9 million passengers in 2009

    O’hare alone had 64,397,782 passengers..

  20. matt says:

    Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport had over 88 million.

    Los Angeles had 56.5 million

    Dallas had 56 million

    Denver had a little over 50 million

    JFK had just under 46 million

    Mccarran international George bush intercontinental phoenix sky harbor and San francisco had 37.3 million to 40.4 million passengers each..

    The difference in scale is just staggering..

  21. matt says:

    The USA has 18 of the top 50 busiest airports in the world..

  22. Reigningsense says:

    I am outraged that this option was EVER even considered as an option for law abiding citizens. Where is the complete and total outrage of all the public that we should be submitted to such treatment. To even consider this as an option is the product of porn fed minds of today.

    This woman WAS ABSOLUTELY right in her response!! (Claire Hirschkind, 56, story) I am BEYOND flabbergasted in her treatment. How dare this be the protocol. How dare anyone consider this as protocol in this country. How does one express complete and total outrage except by saying it over and over again.

    Back to the drawing board TSA. Never let this option even be suggested at your meetings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!