Travelers who display lack of obedience targeted for retaliation
A former TSA worker has pleaded guilty to stealing over $500 in cash from a man who complained about the TSA’s invasive pat down procedure, with the TSA agent admitting the theft was a punishment for the man’s lack of obedience.
60-year-old John W. Irwin pleaded guilty to one count of grand larcenyfollowing an incident in November 2011, during which a man asked that he be given a pat down rather than face a body scanner due to a medical condition.
When TSA agents ordered the man undergo the pat down in a private room, he complained but agreed to do so.
The man placed $520 in cash in a gray plastic bin before accompanying the TSA agents to the private room. When he returned, the money was gone, with Irwin having hidden it in a TSA supervisor’s draw.
When the man asked Irwin where the cash had gone, Irwin claimed ignorance and the incident was subsequently reported to the police.
After first denying to police that he had stolen the money, Irwin later admitted he had put the cash in his locker as a form of punishment in retaliation for the man complaining over his treatment.
“When the passenger returned and I saw that it was the passenger who had given my fellow employees a hard time. I just didn’t let on that I had the money,” Irwin said in a statement to police.
“The TSA’s spokesliars have long insisted that employees never, ever retaliate, nor do they punish dissidents — though every passenger fearing he’ll miss his flight if he so much as sighs while thugs grope him would vehemently disagree. Now here’s a goon admitting he did just that,” writes Becky Akers.
Indeed, as we have previously highlighted, travelers are routinely punished for opting out of the body scanner by being subjected to more invasive pat downs.
As Consumer Traveler’s Charlie Leocha reported, “When meeting with privacy officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and TSA later that month, I was told unofficially that there were two standards of pat-downs. One for the normal situation where passengers are going through metal detectors and a different pat-down for those who refuse to go through the whole-body scanners.”
“With this latest announcement, TSA admits that it has been clandestinely punishing passengers for refusing to go through the invasive whole-body scans with an even more intrusive aggressive pat-down and that soon those more invasive pat-down will creep from airport to airport,” adds Leocha.
During the height of the national op-out day backlash against the TSA in 2010, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg was told by a TSA agent directly that pat downs were made increasingly invasive not for any genuine security reason, but to make the experience so uncomfortable for the traveler that they would be forced to use the body scanner.
Even being seen to display a “bad attitude” in not instantly complying with the TSA’s obedience training can lead to trouble.
As we reported last month, a TSA screener admitted to a woman traveling through Houston Airport that she was prevented from boarding her flight for retaliatory reasons as punishment for a bad attitude rather than any genuine security threat, after the woman refused to allow TSA agents to test her drink for explosives.
Journalists who have been critical of the TSA have also been targeted for reprisals. CNN reporter Drew Griffin was also put on a TSA watch list immediately after he filed reports critical of the organization back in 2008.
John W. Irwin is set to be sentenced in December.