On November 13, software programmer John Tyner was preparing to fly out of San Diego for a hunting trip. When he saw that the airport was using the controversial scanners that take naked pictures of the people passing through them, he refused to be scanned. He was then put in line to receive one of the TSA’s new “invasive” pat-downs, which involves feeling the subjects’ genitals. He refused to be fondled, telling the TSA agent “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” He was escorted out of the airport, and that’s when things got interesting:
At this point, I thought it was all over. I began to make my way to the stairs to exit the airport, when I was approached by another man in slacks and a sport coat. He was accompanied by the officer that had escorted me to the ticketing area and Mr. Silva. He informed me that I could not leave the airport. He said that once I start the screening in the secure area, I could not leave until it was completed. Having left the area, he stated, I would be subject to a civil suit and a $10,000 fine. I asked him if he was also going to fine the 6 TSA agents and the local police officer who escorted me from the secure area. After all, I did exactly what I was told. He said that they didn’t know the rules, and that he would deal with them later. They would not be subject to civil penalties. I then pointed to Mr. Silva and asked if he would be subject to any penalties. He is the agents’ supervisor, and he directed them to escort me out. The man informed me that Mr. Silva was new and he would not be subject to penalties, either. He again asserted the necessity that I return to the screening area. When I asked why, he explained that I may have an incendiary device and whether or not that was true needed to be determined. I told him that I would submit to a walk through the metal detector, but that was it; I would not be groped. He told me that their procedures are on their website, and therefore, I was fully informed before I entered the airport; I had implicitly agreed to whatever screening they deemed appropriate. I told him that San Diego was not listed on the TSA’s website as an airport using Advanced Imaging Technology, and I believed that I would only be subject to the metal detector. He replied that he was not a webmaster, and I asked then why he was referring me to the TSA’s website if he didn’t know anything about it. I again refused to re-enter the screening area.
…I reminded him that he was now illegally detaining me and that I would not be subject to screening as a condition of leaving the airport. He told me that he was only trying to help (I should note that his demeanor never suggested that he was trying to help. I was clearly being interrogated.), and that no one was forcing me to stay. I asked if tried to leave if he would have the officer arrest me. He again said that no one was forcing me to stay. I looked him in the eye, and said, “then I’m leaving”. He replied, “then we’ll bring a civil suit against you”, to which I said, “you bring that suit” and walked out of the airport.
The whole article is well worth reading, especially if you’re at all concerned about the erosion of certain liberties and freedoms in the name of “safety”. But it doesn’t end there: the TSA has, indeed, announced that they are launching an investigation into Tyner:
Michael J. Aguilar, chief of the TSA office in San Diego, called a news conference at the airport Monday afternoon to announce the probe. He said the investigation could lead to prosecution and civil penalties of up to $11,000.
According to Aguilar, Tyner is under investigation for leaving the security area without permission. That’s prohibited, among other reasons, to prevent potential terrorists from entering security, gaining information, and leaving.
Looks like someone is being turned into an example for the rest of us (though the head of the TSA doubts the investigation will go anywhere).
On a related note, the TSA claims that those aforementioned “naked” scanners don’t save the images. Oops… “100 Naked Citizens: 100 Leaked Body Scans.”
At the heart of the controversy over “body scanners” is a promise: The images of our naked bodies will never be public. U.S. Marshals in a Florida Federal courthouse saved 35,000 images on their scanner. These are those images.
A Gizmodo investigation has revealed 100 of the photographs saved by the Gen 2 millimeter wave scanner from Brijot Imaging Systems, Inc., obtained by a FOIA request after it was recently revealed that U.S. Marshals operating the machine in the Orlando, Florida, courthouse had improperly — perhaps illegally — saved images of the scans of public servants and private citizens.
Granted, this particular batch of photos didn’t come from the “naked” scanners — rather, they came from scanners with a much lower resolution — but this isn’t a good precedent. Is it too much of a stretch to believe that photos don’t get deleted from “naked” scanners as they’re supposed to, either?