Female Passengers Say They’re Targeted By TSA

By Susan Barnett

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Is the TSA sexually harassing women? A woman who was told to step into a body scanning machine thinks so. TSA has a policy of randomly selecting people for extra screening, but some travelers believe there is nothing random about the way they were picked.

Do you ever wonder who’s watching you in the airport scanner?

“You don’t want to feel like you’re exposing your whole body,” said one woman.

“I guess I was always under the assumption that people would be respectful,” said another.

“I feel like I was totally exposed for some guys in a back room watching on a video camera,” said Ellen Terrell.

Terrell went through a scanning machine at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

“They selected me to go through the body scanners,” she explained.

Terrell says she didn’t think much about what the female TSA agent said until later.

“She says to me, ‘Do you play tennis?’ And I said, ‘Um, no. Why?’ She said, ‘You just have such a cute figure,'” Terrell said.

Terrell says she walked into the machine, like any of us would. It scanned her and created an image. which a TSA agent in another room sees. But then the female agent stopped her.

“She says, ‘Wait, we didn’t get it,'” Terrell said.

So, Terrell says, the agent sent her back in for a second scan. But that wasn’t good enough.

“She is talking into her microphone and she said, ‘Come on, guys,'” Terrell said. “She’s like, ‘Alright, one more time.'”

After the third time, Terrell says even the agent seemed frustrated with her co-workers in the other room.

“She’s talking into her microphone and she says, ‘It is not blurry! I’m letting her go,’ and she says, ‘Come on out,'” Terrell said.

Terrell believes she knows why TSA agents wanted one more look. In a pat-down situation, only women are allowed to touch female passengers, but TSA allows male agents to view these images of female passengers.

“I was watching the whole thing happen,” said Charlie Terrell, Ellen’s husband.

This is not the first time this type of thing has happened. Read some TSA complaints from women:

“I feel I was targeted to go through the see you naked machine (…) because I am a semi-attractive female.”
“Only women were told to go through.”
“I know he went to that room to see my naked body.”
“Passengers are unwilling victims of a peep show by TSA employees.”

Updated TSA technology shows only a generic body outline when it highlights potential threats. That’s the technology Philadelphia International Airport has. But the older scanners are still in 39 airports across the country, leaving travelers like Ellen and Charlie Terrell to wonder who’s watching.

“You just feel like your privacy has been violated,” said Ellen Terrell.

And that’s important to note because many travelers in the complaints said they didn’t realize they could opt out of the scanner and ask for a pat-down search.

The TSA issued the following statement:

“TSA does not profile passengers. All of our millimeter wave technology units including those in Dallas have been upgraded with additional privacy enhancements that no longer display passenger-specific images. Even prior to this upgrade, officers reviewing the images were located in a separate room and would have never seen the passenger being screened. To further ensure passenger privacy and anonymity, a privacy filter was applied to blur all images. The technology remains optional to all passengers.”

To read complaints about the TSA, click here

  • Thomas Mc

    TSA has never been anything but a jobs program for little Napoleons who couldn’t keep a job elsewhere. Considering the way some of these Nazi wannabees treat good patriotic Americans, they should be stripped of their citizenship, and deported!

  • K

    So what are you going to do about it? Yea, that’s what I thought – nothing.
    Listen to yourselves, Making jokes about feeling up women, or idiotic comments like “well, it’s necessary for security that we have more cancer”. You’re all cowards and you disgust me, especially the husbands like Charlie Terrell who “watched it happen” to his wife and all the parents who allow this to happen to their children. This and many other forms of gov’t abuse will continue to get worse and worse because the people permit it to continue. And ya know what?
    People get the government they deserve.

  • Jenny

    A large percentage of the back-scatter full body scanners in use to screen people do in fact have low levels of ionizing radiation. Given the very large number of people screened, this will very possibly increase cancer deaths by probably a couple hundred people per decade. Maybe that is worth security, but it surely isn’t worth harassing people into re-screens a second or third time, just for kicks.

  • concerned

    This is exactly how Nazi Germany started

  • Zzbar

    Would the TSA admit to this perversion? (NO). They are no different then Jerry Sandusky, only they hide behind the disguise of the useless screening and pat-downs. Has the TSA caught any terrorists, or prevented an attack? Think about this for a moment.

  • Fisher1949

    This is what you get when you have a corrupt unaccountable agency whose workers think they are above the law.

    This has been going on since November 2010 and TSA hasn’t done anything to stop this childish and abusive behavior. They treat the passengers who pay their salaries like playthings and are routinely abusive and belligerent and harass us for amusement.

    Many scanners do not have privacy software that TSA is constantly hyping. The scanners at ORD, JFK, LAX, ATL, BOS, FLL, PHX and many other major airports these are x-ray and have no privacy software like some of the millimeter wave units. These scanners expose passengers to harmful x-ray and some male screener is still viewing the nude image of your wife and kids.

    This problem will persist so long as there is a naked image in the scanner or a cute female that they can watch being groped

    TSA Crimes & Abuses

    • K

      Sadly tho, not enough “brave” Americans will do anything about it. Many mock us for paranoia, or have such a vacuum of integrity that they make jokes about it. Some may whine a little about these issues, but make one excuse or another like “well, this is the price we have to pay for security”, and back they all go to the television ostrich hole.

  • Simba

    Unsurprising. People probably enjoy feeling up girls more than they do guys.

  • Violated

    I was also asked to go through a TSA full body scanner at the Dallas airport this past summer. I was wearing relatively form fitting top and capri pants and it made no sense to me that I was selected to go through the scanner while people with baggier clothing were able to bypass it. And then after going through it, I was subjected to a pat down. It really felt abusive.

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