Terrorism

They Can Have My Ring When They Pry It From My Cold, Dead Chest

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Warning that "incidents of female terrorists hiding explosives in sensitive areas are on the rise all over the world," the Transportation Security Administration says "this scenario must be addressed at our nation's airports." By "sensitive areas," the TSA does not mean airplane cockpits or cargo holds; it means breasts and vaginas. Still, that does not explain why TSA agents at the airport in Lubbock, Texas, forced Mandi Hamlin to remove her nipple rings, saying she could not board her flight to Dallas until she did so. The removal was a painful and embarrassing process that required the use of pliers and elicited the snickers of TSA screeners.

On its website, the TSA says passengers with body piercings may have to undergo "additional screening for a pat-down inspection" if their intimate jewelry sets off the walk-through metal detector. But in Hamlin's case it didn't, and she says it never has. Instead she was selected for secondary examination at random (or by whatever mysterious criteria the TSA uses), and her nipple rings made the screener's wand beep. Hamlin explained the situation and offered to show a female screener her breasts in private to verify that the nipple rings were not explosives or weapons. She was not permitted to do so. Nor was she offered the choice the TSA advertises on its website:

You may be additionally screened because of hidden items such as body piercings, which alarmed the metal detector. If you are selected for additional screening, you may ask to remove your body piercing in private as an alternative to a pat-down search.

Hamlin wanted the pat-down, but she was never given the option. "In response to her complaint," CNN reports, "TSA's customer service manager in Lubbock concluded the screening was handled properly." It's bad enough when the TSA adopts inconvenient, invasive, yet ineffective procedures that seem designed mainly to create the illusion of security. It's worse when passengers can't even count on it to follow its own stupid policies.

More on TSA follies here, here, and here

[via The Freedom Files]

NEXT: Another Isolated Incident

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  1. I think “cold, dead chest” flows better – just saying.

  2. I wish someone had taken a picture the day I was selected for secondary screening in Ontario Int’l (CA). There were three of us: A little eight-year-old girl, an eighty-year-old woman with a walker and me in military uniform.

    It was a very concrete example of the abstract insanity that is TSA. I hate them so very, very much.

  3. Everybody who flies on a plane should wear one of those 4th amendment t-shirts through screening.

  4. If security guards are wannabe cops and cops are wannabe soldiers, what does that make TSA screeners? Other than incompetent assholes, of course.

    I want the government to stop in any way protecting me from breasts.

  5. Was anyone else disappointed by the lady who had the nipple rings in the link? I was hoping she would at least be attractive

  6. THAT’S IT! I’m starting drinking now.

  7. Around here when they started hiring for tsa folks at the local 6 flights a day airport, the people I heard expressing interest were just wanting a good gubmint job. Lotsa bennies and never fired was the battle cry. They didn’t give a shit about security

  8. Personally, I think a candy bar is a small fee for a topless show. I’d probably command/demand at least dinner.

  9. her nipple rings made the screener’s wand beep

  10. LOOK OUT, SHE HAS HAND LOTION!!!

  11. Does GloriaAllred have a private plane or something? Does she monitor a scanner for these things?

  12. If you elect people who hate government to run the government, they will run the government badly on purpose just to prove their point that the government sucks.

    Now, in year eight of an Obama administration, if these types of problems still occur, we can have a discussion. But somehow I don’t think they will.

  13. Now, in year eight of an Obama administration, if these types of problems still occur, we can have a discussion. But somehow I don’t think they will.

    What are you drinking, cuz to write something that nonsensical it must be good stuff.

  14. If you hire competent people who actually care about their job to run these agencies, problems at a lower level would be much rarer (they would never go away entirely, of course). A line in a TSA training manual that said “You don’t have to force people to remove body piercings, because that’s just fucking stupid” would have prevented this. That line didn’t exist, because the people running the program don’t give a shit and/or actually want it to be as fucked up as possible so the general public hates the TSA and/or the government in general.

    Obama will hire competent people. Bush, to quote John Stewart, hired the guy who used to run horsie shows-and was fired from the job for being a fuck up-to run FEMA. I’m sure Bush’s picks to run TSA are just as bad.

  15. I don’t know which is scarier the fact that the TSA are the people protecting us from terrorists, or that a woman that looks like that has nipple rings.

  16. Funny how, 20 or 30 years ago, we would condem, or at least speak against, countries who let their security forces treat the public like that.

  17. Geoptf,

    I’m sorry I don’t buy this “government would be great if we just found the right people/President to run it” line of bravo sierra. Government jobs are notorious as being places you don’t get fired from, have decent benefits and pay, and in this case give you a chance to act like little tinpot dictators.

    A line in a TSA training manual that said “You don’t have to force people to remove body piercings, because that’s just fucking stupid” would have prevented this.

    Did you read the article or are you just being deliberately obtuse? If you follow the link to TSA’s website you find this,

    Hidden items such as body piercings may result in your being directed to additional screening for a pat-down inspection. If selected for additional screening, you may ask to remove your body piercing in private as an alternative to the pat-down search.

    Or is there something magical about including the words “fucking stupid”?

    And please, Bush, et. al. are anything but “hate government” types. Look at how much Bush has expanded government and all this nonsense about compassionate conservativism.

  18. I honestly wonder what would have happened had the woman had a clitoral hood piercing or if it had been a man with a Prince Albert piercing.

  19. Damn, geotpf has unmasked the Vast Libertarian Conspiracy to infiltrate the Civil Service in order to PROVE bureaucracy is inherently insipid.

    Uh guys, did we really need to do that?

  20. I’m just glad Chikezie got voted off of American Idol this week. Americans need to stick it to TSA goons any way they can…

  21. Hey, coulda been a snuke.

  22. Damn, geotpf has unmasked the Vast Libertarian Conspiracy to infiltrate the Civil Service in order to PROVE bureaucracy is inherently insipid.

    That’s right. We masterminded the election of somebody who would turn the federal government up to 11 just because we wanted to prove a point. Because we’re contrarian like that.

  23. Imagine Obama becoming president.

    Is he suddenly going to rescind all of George Bush’s secret orders to screw with U.S. citizens?

    Is he going to fire all of the civil servants hired during the Bush years? How about the ones that had been civil servants from the Clinton years who betrayed their former leader’s competent-government principles?

    And why did all those Clinton civil servants abandon their principles?

    Joking aside, the incentives that make bureaucrats behave imperiously or abusively are not affected by who is 7-10 levels above them in the hierarchy.

    The nasty behavior and/or incompetence we see from government officials is the inevitable result of the incentives inherent to working for a government; income not dependent on customer satisfaction, and no reward for risk-taking. These qualities will be there regardless of whether the president is a crony-capitalist like george Bush or a professional big-city machine politician like Obama.

  24. I presume the clit ring is still safe for now – considering a Republican administration is in full force.

  25. “incidents of female terrorists hiding explosives in sensitive areas are on the rise all over the world,”

    Really? Please elaborate. Has the womb-a-bomb been found? Where? Inquiring minds want to know.

    And we want to know why a ‘tsa customer svc’ rep was quoted in the msm stories. The airlines are tsa’s ‘customers’, we are just suspects to be pushed around.

    Just as UK’s ubiquitous surveillance cams never caught an IRA bomber, TSA’s ‘bend over and crack a smile’ security professionals will never catch a terrorista.

  26. I’m not sure that you’re completely correct in that, tarran. The people at the highest levels can affect whether the job is done by contractors or civil servants. Granted, a crony’s corporation and a public employee union will both exhibit pathologies, but they may have different characteristics and organization cultures.

  27. Just as UK’s ubiquitous surveillance cams never caught an IRA bomber, TSA’s ‘bend over and crack a smile’ security professionals will never catch a terrorista.

    What makes you think that either the cameras or the TSA were put there for the purpose of catching terrorists?

  28. Look, it’s mostly incompetence and not-giving-a-shit more than deliberately trying to make a mess of government, but they accoplish the same thing.

    Let’s do a past test experiment: Try and locate an act by a Federal agent during Bill Clinton’s eight year term in office that was as dumb as forcing people to remove their nipple rings because there might be nipple bombs inside them. You have the entire intrawebs. Go team Libertarian, go!

  29. “Try and locate an act by a Federal agent during Bill Clinton’s eight year term in office that was as dumb as forcing people to remove their nipple rings because there might be nipple bombs inside them.”

    Waco?

  30. Does the Drug Enforcement Agency count?

  31. “Try and locate an act by a Federal agent during Bill Clinton’s eight year term in office that was as dumb as forcing people to remove their nipple rings because there might be nipple bombs inside them.”

    I’m not going to use the Internet, but off the top of my head – Ruby Ridge. “God damn America” is mild, compared to the language I used then.

  32. Ayn_Randian | March 28, 2008, 6:01pm | #
    I wish someone had taken a picture the day I was selected for secondary screening in Ontario Int’l (CA). There were three of us: A little eight-year-old girl, an eighty-year-old woman with a walker and me in military uniform.

    It was a very concrete example of the abstract insanity that is TSA. I hate them so very, very much.

    Sounds like you were not so much on the No Fly List as you were on the WHose Less Likely to Get Between Me & My Pension List.

  33. Geotpf,
    If you hire competent people who actually care about their job to run these agencies, problems at a lower level would be much rarer (they would never go away entirely, of course).

    The problem is the incentives. Bureaucrats, even good-hearted ones, do not have the incentive to serve the public – they get paid no matter what. Is the same with P.S. teachers, DMV clerks, IRS goons, et cetera.

    That line [that prohibits humiliation] didn’t exist, because the people running the program don’t give a shit and/or actually want it to be as fucked up as possible so the general public hates the TSA and/or the government in general.

    The culprit is somewhere else, my friend: the lack of incentives to serve a public. This is why private business treats you with a smile, whereas any public servant treats you like you came out a rock: because the private sector WANTS your business. The public servants get paid whatever happens, only rarely being in jeopardy of losing their jobs.

    Obama will hire competent people.

    Are you a soothsayer? How do you know this? Seems like wishful thinking. Obama is just another politician, nothing more than that.

    Bush, to quote John Stewart, hired the guy who used to run horsie shows-and was fired from the job for being a fuck up-to run FEMA.

    It would not have mattered if he hired Mr. Disaster-go-Away-man himself: the problem with government agencies is that they respond to totally different incentives than normal people and the private sector. Agencies try their best to increase their budgets and their level of self-importance. FEMA had their budget increased even though it failed miserably, and this is totally regardless of who is president – it is the same with all governments, not only the USA’s.

  34. They hire the dumbest of the dumb or dumb and dumber and then they realize how much control they are given and it goes to their head for they cannot control themselves, because they have serious issues. This is allowed by the higher ups, so they can condition people to submit.

    Why all the personal attacks on this womans looks? Doesn’t it make you look just as bad if not more as the perverts who work for TSA?

    Who cares what she looks like, we should be concentrating on the issue at hand, the police state!

  35. Waco and Ruby Ridge both involved Federal agents trying to arrest well armed people for firearm law violations. Such conflicts frequently result in deaths, for obvious reasons.

    Now, one can argue about the gun laws in question (in the case of Waco, that would be the right to own fully automatic weapons), or the specific battlefield acts made by the agents at the time (always made under duress), but neither comes close to the sheer stupidity of being afraid of an exploding nipple ring bomb, although the consequences were much greater, of course.

    Try again.

  36. Oh, and I forgot the timeline. Bush Sr. was President during Rudy Ridge, and Clinton had been President for about a month when Waco happened. In fact, had I remembered that, I could have used those (at least Rudy Ridge) as examples of incomptence of a Republican president. 😛

  37. “I could have used those (at least Rudy Ridge) as examples of incomptence of a Republican president.

    I wouldn’t do that if I were you, the clinton administration gave promotions to the officers in charge of those fiascoes. So obviously Bill Clinton approved of their actions.

    Of course, you probably will want to ignore Janet Reno entirely, since her chief claim to fame prior to being nominated for the position of attorney general was framing and jailing innocent people for child abuse.

    But as to nastiness when clinton was the president , the framing of Richard Jewell and the department of the interior’s looting of rents owed to Indian tribes leap to mind.

  38. Geo/Rakune

    I think the words you’re looking for are “Elian Gonzalez”

    But in any case, it’s tar and feather time, this has gone too far.

  39. And by the way, the thing in Waco was over an unpaid $500.00 tax bill. Had they paid the tax bill, their weapons would have been legal.

    In Ruby Ridge, Randy Weaver was in effect prosecuted for refusing to join a violent white-supremacist group as a federal informant. The weapon he illegally modified was done as a favor for another federal informant who was working for the guys who initiated the shootout that left the 13 year old Weaver boy dead. Once the feds had gotten him to commit this “crime”, they demanded he put his and his family’s lives at risk by beginning to associate with some very dangerous low-lifes. Last time I checked, asking an informant to initiate a crime that would otherwise not occur was the textbook definition of entrapment.

    This had as much to do with legitimate law enforcement as the actions of those FBI agents who set up 4 innocent guys in Boston to do life-in-prison stretches in order to keep their informant, who had actually committed the murders, out of jail.

    Bill Clinton approved of the extrajudicial executions of separatists, and no amount of whitewashing will cover that fact up,

  40. The Bush rednecks will forever paint Bill Clinton as responsible for the sorry saga of Waco – as bad as that was – and he no doubt should have pulled the stormtroopers back.

    Never mind that Dumbya has walked all over MOST of the Bill of Rights, due process, the Libby treason, privacy, the Establishment Clause, $4 trillion more in debt to China/etc., Medicare Welfare, etc.

    But, the knuckle-draggers have their hard-on and Limbaugh gives them life…..

  41. Try and locate an act by a Federal agent during Bill Clinton’s eight year term in office that was as dumb as forcing people to remove their nipple rings because there might be nipple bombs inside them.

    OMG! He just ran rings around me logically! Clinton was not as corrupt as Bush which proves that an Obama administration will not have abusive TSA agents! How stupid I was to think otherwise!

  42. At this point the TSA is the kind of self-perpetuating beast that inevitably results when a bureaucracy is granted lots of power and little actual purpose. But also, we have spent six years living in a state of institutional denial. Our government, willfully or otherwise, refuses to admit a basic and irrefutable premise: that the attacks of Sept. 11 were not, in fact, caused by a failure of airport security. As I’ve posited many times before, the hijackers did not exploit a weakness in security, they exploited our mind-set — our understanding and assumptions, based on dozens of earlier events, of how a hijacking is supposed to unfold. What weapons the men carried aboard was irrelevant. Thus the plot, in its brutal simplicity, was all but guaranteed to succeed. Today, due chiefly to the awareness of passengers and crew, just the opposite is true, and no group of terrorists would be stupid enough to attempt a takeover with such a high likelihood of failure.

    This is a pretty good piece at Salon.

  43. Nothing about nipple rings, though.

  44. shrike, Geotpf

    It would be really helpful to the cause of civil liberties if folks like you actually paid attention to policy actions instead of hitting the snooze button when a democrat is in the white house.

    You might start by reading this article

    Anthony Lewis of the New York Times said, “Bill Clinton has the worst civil liberties record of any president in at least 60 years” — that is, worse than Lewis’s old enemy Richard Nixon. Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice went further, saying that no other American president “has done so much damage to constitutional liberties as Bill Clinton.”

    But wait theres more

    Clinton has spent eight years in the White House, giving us “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, and a doubling of marijuana arrests.

    American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen wrote recently in the book The Rule of Law in the Wake of Clinton that “a single essay cannot do justice to the injustices that the Clinton administration has perpetrated through its far-ranging assaults on free speech and privacy.”

  45. Go to the TSA blog and give them hell in the comments. They always ignore my comments there – they seek easier targets.

  46. ummmm, arguing about who has the worse civil rights record, Clinton or Bush is akin to claiming that Stalin was worse than Hitler….they’re both fuckin’ bad guys-and the whole troop they drag along with them, respectively.

    That being said, at lease Bush has the decency to BBQ Arabs rather than Texans.

    So far

  47. TJIT –

    That is a good citation/link.

    I am a strong advocate of privacy and ACLU causes – and your link fails to mention the greatest sin of the Clinton years – the horrible ‘Communications Decency Act’ (shudders)….

    I am a radical for the Bill of Rights (Larry Flynt on the press, full supporter of the NRA, strict secularist, etc.)

    Yes, the GOP hates me and politically correct types do too…

    Its ok though!

  48. Geotpf,

    If you hire competent people who actually care about their job to run these agencies, problems at a lower level would be much rarer

    Only in your dreams. Have you ever worked close with a government agency? Gotten to know some people on that side of the fence, learned about their motives and how and why they do the irrational things they do (to any sane person)?

    Try it sometime, you’ll come back with a whole new attitude. Government employees are not normal people.

    Try and locate an act by a Federal agent during Bill Clinton’s eight year term in office that was as dumb as forcing people to remove their nipple rings because there might be nipple bombs inside them.

    To be fair, try and locate an act that had as much political energy behind it as 9/11. Stupid things have happened since then, as is virtually inevitable no matter who was in the White House.

    Not that I’m a Bush fan by any means (or a Republican either), but call a spade a spade. I haven’t heard any stories yet about Bush screwing around with an intern “just because he knew he could”. Nor has Bush bombed anyone to avoid his legal problems, caused by his lying about the fact that he was screwing around with interns.

    A cum stained dress is the symbol of Clinton’s presidency. If a ring, symbolizing magic nipple bombs, is Bush’s, then I for one say that Bush got the best of it.

  49. hidden items such as body piercings, which alarmed the metal detector

    Hell, they alarmed me!

  50. calvin – no.

    waterboarding. torture. no. they are not fucking close.

    however, there are some who use the argument you do to deflect from the fact that our nation uses/has very recently used torture methods. that is intolerable that our country does that.

  51. “Try and locate an act by a Federal agent during Bill Clinton’s eight year term in office that was as dumb as forcing people to remove their nipple rings because there might be nipple bombs inside them.”

    Waco?

    Elian Gonzales?

  52. Like so many partisans on both the red and blue teams, Geotpf believes that it will all work “if only the right people are in charge. This display an unfortunatly all too common ignorance about the workings of government, history and human nature.

    IOW, Geotpf is an unthinking partisan boob. He is not alone on Boob island. Hillary, McCain, Huckabee and Edwards supporters are right there with him, singing the refrain –

    If only we
    Were the one’s in charge
    There’d be no problems,
    By and large.

  53. Real people don’t wear red or blue.

  54. Whatever one thinks about the relative level of abuses and/or incompetence of federal agencies under the previous two administrations, the idea that TSA issues like the one in question is the result of people who don’t like government being in charge and actively trying to undermine the agency is one of the most absurd and laughable claims I’ve seen around here lately.

    First, as I believe others have pointed out from a quick scan of the comments, Bush has done nothing to evidence any dislike of the use of government, particularly when the issue is “security.” Beyond that, it lacks even a hint of credibility to claim that the people in charge of the TSA specifically, and the Department of “Homeland” Security in general, don’t believe all too strongly in the government’s duty to protect us from all sorts of threats, both real and imagined. They are, rather, over-zealous in that belief and in the desire to expand the use of government power.

  55. Just remember that TSA is the same people who ripped the toggle latches off my wife’s luggage because they can. Obviously, a stringed instrument with underwear around it is a scary thing and toggle latches could be booby trapped.

    “Real people don’t wear red or blue.”

    Is that similar to, real Irish people don’t drink green beer? Being half irish, I can only say life is too short to drink cheap/green beer. Which isn’t to say that midori doesn’t have its place.

  56. Which isn’t to say that midori doesn’t have its place.

    Midori and club soda. Pop with a kick.

  57. TSA’s has responded.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080329/ap_on_re_us/nipple_rings;_ylt=AkU4PvTmVwjIaR_StyfZUV5vzwcF

    They are changing the policy to allow visual inspection. Which is silly because it was already an option by their own policy. I guess no one has read the rules including those at the top. Or they think we are real stupid.

  58. Vic,
    they’ve already said that the idiots were properly following policy, so they can’t contradict themselves. They HAVE to sell the fact that they’re changing policy.

  59. If you elect people who hate government to run the government, they will run the government badly on purpose just to prove their point that the government sucks.

    Now, in year eight of an Obama administration, if these types of problems still occur, we can have a discussion. But somehow I don’t think they will.

    Give me a break. Soldiers, children and old women are searched because it is politically incorrect to use a profile to single out likely hijackers and terrorists. The PC movement in this country is a direct spawn of racial guilt.

    Do you REALLY think Obama will change that? I expect PC driven searches to increase if Obama wins.

  60. Down with the bloated, intrusive agency and all that. Trollish g utterly refuted above. But the mistake was made way down the agency management chain. As a policy matter, giving the choice of inspection beneath underwear means there must be enough agents of each gender at every such checkpoint to accommodate demands to display piercings of intimate body parts. Then there is the problem that the kinda people who appear in NOTW under “sex life way worse than yours” can compel same-sex TSA screeners to let them expose themselves.

  61. What about the man who says he was abused by men as a child and would be traumatized by a male examiner, so he wants a female screener? What about the risk of a cheap thrill seeker among the gay TSA screeners?

  62. “What about the risk of a cheap thrill seeker among the gay TSA screeners?”

    Does the Trivial Safety Army have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy also?

  63. In the meantime I just unpacked my laptop bag and discovered I’ve been carrying around a 5 inch folding knife for the last 6 months.

    My laptop bag has been screened by the TSA 10 or 12 times in that timeframe.

    Good work guys.

    Security theater.

  64. Democrats like to forget that a lot of the airport screening idiocy began under the CLINTON administration. It’s just gotten a lot worse under Bush, but I’m sure Hilary would do nothing to change it. Obama and McCain might make things slightly better, but I doubt it. The incentives for politicians are always to “do more”, i.e. expand government services. Cutting back the TSA will leave the President, especially Obama, open to charges that he’s “soft on terrorism.”

    There are some government agencies that have gotten far worse under Bush than they need to be – Department of Justice for example has been turned into a welfare program for right-wing fundamentalist Christians from bad law schools. I’m sure under Obama we would see some improvement in the DOJ, probably FEMA as well. But the TSA? forget it. The TSA almost by definition can’t be improved by competent people because it has no real rationale for existing. Success is defined in terms of how many idiotic new rules you can introduce. Incompetent, lazy screeners would be a god-send, the last thing we want are more TSA agents taking their ridiculous jobs seriously.

  65. Since September 26, 2006, the TSA has shown they cared about contemporary conservatives, and allowed containers of KY jelly bigger than 3oz to be carried in take on baggage, just in case they get lucky in a bathroom during layovers.

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