TSA Grabs Junk

The Denver Post's Craig Walker has captured this image of a TSA agent performing an "enhanced pat down."

The Denver Post‘s Craig Walker has captured this image of a TSA agent performing an “enhanced pat down.”

As passengers traveled through Denver International Airport on Wednesday in advance of the Thanksgiving rush, some invoked their constitutional right against unreasonable search, while others were more forgiving of efforts to keep travel safe.

Jeffrey “Gator” Henry of Charlotte, N.C., moved through security in skimpy gym shorts and a sleeveless tank top as part of his plan to reject screening by advanced imaging machines — the devices that use either millimeter-wave or backscatter X-ray technology — and to request a pat-down instead. “It’s an invasion of privacy,” said Henry, a television and film producer, as he waited at DIA’s A concourse checkpoint. Henry said he’s joined the nascen tmovement that is asking travelers to voluntarily opt out of screening by the full-body scanners in favor of more time-consuming pat-downs. Some have designated the day before Thanksgiving as National Opt-Out Day.

“I dressed this way so there is nothing to pat down,” he said of the more intensive TSA hand searches.
TSA pat-downs have evolved into more of a light massage, with screeners running their hands up and down the arms, torsos and legs of those passengers selected for the extra screening procedure.

Mediaite‘s Mark Joyella comments:

Sometimes all it takes to launch another wave of talk about a hot topic is an image. And when it comes to junk grabbing, that picture comes to us today from Denver.

The Denver Post, in a front-page story Thursday morning, captures the entire debate over intensive hand-pat searches with one shot: a TSA employee with his gloved hand firmly in the junk zone of a passenger who remains-for his sake-happily unidentifiable. The TSA worker even seems to be struggling-his face fixed in a disturbing grimace.

The debate over hand searches launched into the top slot of most cable newscasts Monday with the camera-phone-captured encounter between TSA workers and a flyer who compared the searches to “sexual assault,” and advised agents not to “touch my junk.”

The shot got play on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and will surely be more than enough to spark another whirl of cable net debate ahead of the Thanksgiving travel boom.

So this is junk grabbing. Yes, it looks every bit as unpleasant as advertised. Watch the Morning Joecrew discuss it this morning on MSNBC:

We’ll see whether the uproar lasts long enough to force a change to a saner policy.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jeffrey Gator Henry says:

    Thanks for posting this; I’ve got a lot more to say. Unfortunately the Post did not post one of the 30 pics they took of me that day, but if you want one, just let me know.

    Give me liberty, or give me death.

    Jeffrey Gator Henry