November 24, 2010

For Those Who Wonder Why I Take The TSA Screening Issue Seriously

Let's remember the treatment my wife and I received two-and-a-half years ago while traveling in Pittsburgh -- before the search methods became even more invasive than today. Here's the report I filed in March, 2008, regarding physical abuse at the hands of TSA agents.

* * *

On Monday, February 25, 2008, my wife and I were returning to Houston after visiting my wife’s hometown, where we were seeing to her mother, who is seriously ill and expected to pass away soon. It was a difficult time.

Because my wife, Paula, uses a wheelchair, we needed to access the private screening lane at approximately 10:00 a.m. As instructed by the TSA staff member at the podium at the head of the line, we placed our personal property on the lower shelf of the metal table so that I could push Paula down to the private screening room and then return to place these items on the x-ray belt. It was important to stay with these items because they included a wallet with approximately $100 in it, a personal laptop computer, a cellular phone, my wife’s purse and a carry-on bag containing a number of collector coins and some jewelry that Paula’s mother wished her to have, as well as both of our medications. We were carrying these latter items in the carry-on bag out of concern that they would disappear from checked baggage.

We first encountered the screener named Monique at this time. She was carrying a number of gray plastic crates to place in position for travelers to use. I told Monique that I did not want these items going through screening without me because of the valuables inside the bag, and that the previous TSA employee had told us that we could place the items there. Monique told us that we could not do so. When I reiterated my first statement, Monique said, "You're going to do it my way" and began to move the items to the x-ray conveyor and push the items through the x-ray without my permission. I was upset because this meant these items would have to sit at the end of the x-ray unattended until I could get my wife to the private screening room and then pass through the line myself.

During this time, Monique passed by Paula’s wheelchair several times, striking her in the back with the gray bins each time she passed. We at first assumed this was an accident but came to believe that this was intentional because of the repeated act of striking her in the back as she passed.

At this point Monique insisted Paula move her wheelchair. It is a motorized wheelchair, but no battery was connected because we considered the difficulty of traveling with them to outweigh the benefits. Paula could not move her wheelchair by herself because of her disability, so I needed to move the wheelchair for her to the screening room. Monique was angered by this, and was upset that my wife could not get out of her way fast enough to suit her or reach the screening room unattended. We were disturbed when we reached the private screening room and discovered it would be Monique who was to conduct Paula’s screening. According to Paula, Monique repeatedly kicked and hit her chair when she asked her to stop because the jarring of the chair caused her great pain due to chronic pain associated with her disability. Paula further states that another female screener was in the room when Monique conducted her screening and became so visibly upset by Monique actions and verbal abuse that the female screener left the room.

After screening was completed, Monique informed Paula that she needed to conduct a bag search on the bag containing the coins, jewelry, and medication. Monique was angry that Paula did not have the key to the small padlock on the bag and continued to be very rude and abrupt. During the search, Monique’s rudeness continued in my presence, and inquired why we were carrying certain of the items. I stated, "Lady I don't know what your problem is," to which Monique responded, "I'm no lady." In reply, I said, "No you're not, but I'm not going to say what I think you are". At that point, Monique aggressively responded "You want to start calling names? You want to start calling names?" Her manner was unprofessional and of such an aggressive, confrontational nature, that I believed Monique was trying to provoke a fight in order to have me arrested. I would also like to state that I do not believe it was her business to ask why we had medication, coins and jewelry in our carry-on luggage.

Monique summoned a man named Ron, and Paula and I indicated that we wanted to file a complaint. Ron started to hand us two sheets of paper, but then gave us only one. The form Paula was given by Ron did not have a place to include our names and contact information, which left us concerned about follow through. Paula completed the form we were given in detail, and I then turned the information in at the podium, though I do not remember the name of the woman to whom it was given. We then headed to the gate for our flight.

After arriving at the gate, I went to one of the magazine stands to get a soda for Paula so that she could take her medication due to the pain caused by Monique’s jarring of the wheelchair and her back. A female TSA employee, who turned out to be the same woman who left the private screening room, approached me. She expressed her concern over the way Paula was treated and was aware that we were not provided with the Customer Service Representative's name and telephone number. She provided us with the Customer Service number and contact information. She stated that she had taken her break and followed us because the treatment we had received was not right, and that Monique constantly treats passengers this way but is never disciplined because someone seems to be either covering for her or afraid to take action, despite the fact that Monique is often rude and or brutal with passengers. She related that there have been past incidents that involved physical altercations with passengers, and no action taken, and she asked us to please follow up on our complaint, which was already our intent. She was quite concerned with having her anonymity concerned, however, because of the lack of action against Monique and fear that she would face retaliation (including possible termination) for assisting us in this way. I view her actions as being in the highest spirit of professionalism and to be commended rather than punished.

I have since been in contact with the Pittsburgh Customer Service Representative, and have initiated a complaint process through her, as well as with my elected representatives in Washington, DC.

* * *

We were fortunate. We eventually did get some redress from the TSA -- though I cannot help but think that their being contacted by the office of my Congressman and both of my US Senators may have made me the squeaky wheel that got me some grease. I can only imagine the sort of treatment that we would receive today, and the attempts by the Obama TSA to justify the physical abuse my wife received as a part of keeping America safe. The Obama Regime and its functionaries running the TSA have demonstrated of late that they are less concerned about counter-terrorism measures and more concerned about flexing their authoritarian muscles, so I doubt that we would have seen any discipline taken against the screener and supervisor who repeatedly violated TSA regulations, federal law, and our rights. The rot in this agency begins at the top -- Pistole, Napolitano, and Obama are directly responsible for the contempt shown for Americans in airports today.

|| Greg, 06:25 PM || Permalink || Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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Comments on For Those Who Wonder Why I Take The TSA Screening Issue Seriously

Oh, well, Monique probably found a better job with the Texas Teacher Retirement System.

|| Posted by Mack, November 25, 2010 09:22 AM ||

Let me guess; Monique was a minority who's actions had nothing to do with her bias towards you?

|| Posted by GoneWithTheWind, November 25, 2010 10:57 AM ||

Monique was a minority -- and I have no idea what led to her attitude towards me other than her being a bitch with a little bit of power which she decided to use against the wrong couple that day.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, November 25, 2010 07:06 PM ||
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NAME: Greg
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