Safety Protocol or Abuse of Power? Essay

The target audience for this subject is Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees. This includes agents and the corporate branch. Readers are expected to have a general understanding of how air passengers feel while being searched and why some protocols should change. This report is also intended to educate employees on the seriousness of sexual harassment and give different ideas as to how to search passengers. Fire. Destruction. Horror. These are a few of the understated words that describe the tragedy of 9/11.

On September 11th, 2001, terrorists hijacked planes, then crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, causing thousands of innocent lives to come to an unexpected end. “Haunting questions remain unanswered about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States: How did the 19 hijackers elude detection to carry out their deadly plot? (Re-examining 9/11)” After this tragedy, the TSA made their security protocols twice as strict if not more. To some, these protocols are necessary. For others, that is not the case.

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The searches are very thorough, varying on the suspicion of the traveler. One can only guess some of the people whom the agents presume “suspicious”: people of Arabic descent, or people who look Arabic in general are searched very thoroughly. However, Arabic people are not the only ones offended by these situations: many Americans are also sickened by the TSA’s protocol. What makes a person look suspicious? Why are some people not searched as well as others? Should everyone be searched equally, and if so, how far should the TSA take the physical aspect of searching?

A person’s social situation or cultural background does not coincide with insanity; everyone should be searched equally, and only those who are legitimately “suspicious” should be searched thoroughly after the basic searching is completed. Some claim that the TSA take their protocol too far. Many people, the majority of them of the female sex, accused some agents of groping, sexual harassment, or unnecessary actions in general. Amy Strand from Maui was being searched in Kauai’s Lihue Airport when an agent found an electric breast pump and empty milk bottles in her luggage.

Though she was carrying her 9-month old daughter, “she was told she couldn’t bring the machine through with the milk bottles empty, because that somehow meant the pump wasn’t considered medically necessary. (Jezebel)” There was no private area in the airport where she could fill the bottles up, so the agent forced her to fill them up in the women’s bathroom in front of people. The pump had no outlet, so she had to fill the bottles next to the sink. “I had to stand in front of the mirrors and the sinks and pump my breast, in front of every tourist that walked into that bathroom,” she said.

The situation left her embarrassed and humiliated. “The TSA has admitted that the agent made a mistake, and they’ve apologized for ‘any inconvenience or embarrassment this incident may have caused her. ’ Meanwhile, in related news, TSA agents at New York’s JFK airport let a woman get through security with a dagger in her bag this weekend. (Jezebel)” Obviously, the purpose of the TSA is to keep America and its people safe. As of today, December 4th, 2012, there are 87,392 people on the No Fly List (No Fly List).

The No Fly List is a list created by the TSA that bans people on the list from flying in or out of the United States. This TSA enforces this list. There are many rules the agents have to follow, and though some may believe they are being discriminated against, the agents are just doing their jobs. Some people are more comfortable with being searched than others, rather the reason be high self-esteem or respect for the agents. Without the TSA, there would be a much higher risk of terrorism in America. However, the TSA makes some people feel violated; even small children.

Michelle Brademeyer of Missoula, Montana’s four-year-old girl was forced to spread her legs for “security purposes” after “the child hugged her grandmother at a security checkpoint at [the] Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. (FOX News and Commentary)” The agent suspected that the child’s grandmother passed a handgun to her. “’They told her she had to come to them, alone, and spread her arms and legs,’ Brademeyer wrote, noting that her daughter began screaming, ‘No, I don’t want to. ’ (FOX News and Commentary” After the child refused, they threatened to shut down the airport and cancel all flights.

Brademeyer claims that her daughter is traumatized by this event, and she wakes up with nightmares. People of Arabic descent often times feel discriminated against due to the TSA’s suspicion of them being terrorists. Arabic people are almost always searched more thoroughly than anyone else due to the 9/11 tragedy. Does the TSA not understand that the people who hijacked those planes were insane? A person’s race should not determine if he/she is a terrorist or not. Charles Manson, for example, was a cult leader. He was a white male.

Does that make all white males cult leaders? Al Qaeda is a terrorist group, not another word for “Arabic. ” There should be a basic search for all people if they seem suspicious or not. A person can act suspicious due to anxiety or many other factors. Fidgeting or stuttering should not be deemed suspicion, either. Searching takes up a lot of time, therefore the basic searches should be quick and not too physical. However, if a person has something on him/her that could possibly be linked to a weapon that could be used for terrorism, he/she should be searched very thoroughly.

Safety should not be an excuse for violating someone if they have no reason to be thoroughly searched. No one wants to be violated or discriminated against. The TSA’s protocol is very broad, allowing agents to search passengers as they please. There are people out there that plan to harm the country and safety is definitely a concern with people on an airplane, but it should not be an excuse to harass innocent people by invading their private space. Keeping America safe should be the TSA’s main priority, not embracing its authority and unnecessarily violating others.


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