TSA Agent: Be Quiet About Alleged Sexual Assault, or Pay $500,000

Give some people a badge, and the power goes to their head. A TSA agent has threatened to sue a female traveler who complained that the agent engaged in a sexually-intrusive search that was extreme and unnecessarily prolonged. The traveler, who is also a syndicated columnist, says that the agent “four times stuck the side of her gloved hand into my vagina . . . Four times. Back right and left, and front right and left.” She calls that “government-sanctioned sexual assault.” The TSA agent is now threatening to sue the traveler for publicizing what she experienced. The TSA agent, through her lawyer, is now demanding $500,000, in a letter from the lawyer that complains about the traveler’s “detailed description of what you claim my client did to you, including the statement that my client inserted her fingers into your vagina. These outbursts in public and writings on the internet have subject my client to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy.” One would have thought that a core purpose of the First Amendment was to permit citizens to criticize government officials (and their actions) in an “robust and uninhibited” way without reprisals.

Another writer, Andrew Ian Dodge, earlier shared his painful experience at the hands of the TSA (see this link.) The TSA inflicted prolonged pain on him through completely unnecessary “kneeding and prodding” of his scar from a “colon cancer operation that went from” his crotch to his sternum.

Earlier, the TSA retaliated against a veteran pilot who exposed the TSA’s security failures, taking away whistleblower Chris Liu’s credentials and firearm. It also confiscated a pregnant diabetic woman’s insulin, claiming it was an explosives risk.

Earlier, we wrote about the TSA’s decision to block competing private companies from performing airline security screening, even though private airport screeners do better on customer-satisfaction and passenger-happiness measures than TSA employees. TSA’s attack on private screening will harm innovation and passenger safety. CEI’s Brian McGraw wrote about the Obama administration’s decision to support unionization of TSA employees, which TSA heads during the Bush administration had consistently opposed on security grounds.

The Obama administration has backed the unionization of the TSA, even though the TSA was originally forbidden to unionize due to security concerns. Unlike the TSA’s current head, all past TSA administrators have recognized that collective bargaining and union work rules are inconsistent with the flexibility needed to protect public safety and adapt quickly to changes in terrorist tactics. (Undercover agents have managed to slip bombs past TSA screeners, and the TSA is even less effective at detecting them than the private security firms it replaced after 9/11.)

Robert Verbruggen wrote recently about the downside of unionizing security agencies in the National Review. As he noted, unionization made matters worse at other federal agencies: “Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) — which, unlike the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service, is a federal law-enforcement agency that allows collective bargaining — illustrates the problem with letting unions interfere in disciplinary matters: The agency got into an arbitration war over how it could discipline an employee who literally fell asleep on the job. Worse, CBP lost.”

The Obama administration also undermined a highly-rated anti-terror office at Amtrak, which Amtrak’s unions disliked, despite its efficiency, because it was not unionized.