Complain About Being Sexually Assaulted By A TSA Thug? THEY'LL SUE!

Law

On March 31st of this year, Amy Alkon — a writer who blogs at the Advice Goddess Blog — was sexually assaulted in front of dozens of witnesses.

The person who sexually assaulted her was not punished and will not be punished. Why? Because our government sees fit, as part of its policy of security theater and perpetual wartime mentality, to confer a privilege to sexually assault strangers in public upon certain people: employees of the TSA.

Amy — who refused to be scanned — was instead forcibly groped by a TSA employee. Unlike most Americans, she didn't take it quietly. She expressed her feelings of violation and humiliation, in person at the time and in writing later:

Basically, I felt it important to make a spectacle of what they are doing to us, to make it uncomfortable for them to violate us and our rights, so I let the tears come. In fact, I sobbed my guts out. Loudly. Very loudly. The entire time the woman was searching me.

Nearing the end of this violation, I sobbed even louder as the woman, FOUR TIMES, stuck the side of her gloved hand INTO my vagina, through my pants. Between my labia. She really got up there. Four times. Back right and left, and front right and left. In my vagina. Between my labia. I was shocked — utterly unprepared for how she got the side of her hand up there. It was government-sanctioned sexual assault.

Amy's public assault is not unusual. Stories of gratuitous and inappropriate touching by TSA employees are legion. The stories range from inhuman indifference to deliberate humiliation. Many of those stories emphasize that showing any resistance — whether by opting out of scanners, or voicing objections to groping — will result in immediate retaliation, and possible official investigation, by TSA employees. The TSA has reached the point that its sense of entitlement is nearly impervious to satire. Yet our government assures us that our concerns are meritless.

Despite the wide audience she enjoys, Amy's story could easily have been lost in the din of routine TSA excess. But because Amy didn't take it quietly — because she called the TSA employee out for her assault, and because she wrote about it — now she's facing a legal threat.

The TSA agent — one Thedala Magee — has demanded that Amy pay her $500,000 for Magdee's distress at being called out.

In your blog of April 26, 2011, you admit to having yelled at my client, "You raped me" on March 31, 2011 for all within earshot and you have continued to compound your torts against my client by repeating this along with a detailed description of what you claim my client did to you, including the statement that my client inserted her fingers into your vagina.

These outbursts in public and writings on the internet have subject my client to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, and have injured her in her reputation and her occupation. Furthermore, as a result of your actions, my client has suffered and continues to suffer damages including but not limited to severe emotional distress, fear, difficulties performing her duties, and other problems as a proximate result of your tortuous actions.

Your statements were outrageous and malicious and made with the intention to cause or made with the reckless disregard of the probability of causing severe emotional distress and suffering, and they were the actual and proximate causation thereof.

See, in our national scheme of security theater, it's Thedala Magee's role to touch the genitals of strangers, and it's Amy Alkon's role — and yours, and mine — to stand there and take it, or the terrorists win. Amy upset that natural order — so it must be a payday for Magee.

You might think that it's ludicrous, freakish, unbelievable that anyone would think it appropriate to threaten suit when someone objects to being touched by a stranger in public. But in America, there is no banner so loathsome that some bottom-feeding thug from my profession won't take it up. Today's bottom-feeder is Vicki Roberts. What kind of lawyer is Vicki Roberts? Well, before you even consider the legal threat she issued in this case, I invite you to consider the following factors:

1. Her web site is called www.restmycase.com.
2. It includes a memorial to her dog. [My position is that dogs are nice and it is sad when they die.]
3. She is very proud of her repeated appearances on the television show "Celebrity Justice."
4. She is very proud of her IMDB entry. Proud enough to tout that she got "Additional Thanks" for a movie, and that she played herself in Weiner Strudel. [My position is that strudel is good.]
5. She is extremely proud of having been a judge pro tem for the Los Angeles County Superior Court. To give you a hint of how rigorously selective that process is, they once tried to make me a judge pro tem of the mental health division.

That's the sort of lawyer who sends a bullying demand letter to a writer who talked about her experience with a rough TSA patdown. Go figure.

Perhaps Ms. Magee — and Ms. Roberts — thought that Amy Alkon could be bullied. If so, they haven't read much of what she's written. Lawyers like Roberts — and litigants like Magee — depend on terrifying people with their frivolous claims. Amy's not terrified. Amy already has a lawyer in her corner who, legally speaking, is going to kick the living shit out of Roberts and Magdee if they are foolish enough to pull the trigger on this vexatious lawsuit. Yes — as narrative and dramatic convention requires — it's First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza. He's written back to Roberts already. It's everything you'd expert, legally and rhetorically:

First of all, Ms. Magee did rape my client. Your client aggressively pushed her fingers into my client’s vulva. I am certain that she did not expect to find a bomb there. She did this to humiliate my client, to punish her for exercising her rights, and to send a message to others who might do the same. It was absolutely a sexual assault, perpetrated in order to exercise power over the victim. We agree with Ms. Alkon’s characterization of this crime as “rape,” and so would any reasonable juror.

Roberts, as the sort of lawyer who is proud of appearing on "Celebrity Justice," may be stupid enough to sue anyway. If so, she's going to learn a swift and vivid lesson about California's anti-SLAPP statute. Her client may well wind up paying Amy Alkon's attorney fees. She's also going to learn about the Streisand Effect — her client, once obscure, will become intensely internet-famous as a government employee who tried to shake a writer down for half a million bucks for complaining about having her vagina touched. I wonder — did Vicki Roberts warn her client about the Streisand Effect before sending this threat letter? In short: this will not be pretty for Ms. Roberts or Ms. Magdee. As a result of Roberts' reckless and bumptious threat, many experienced litigators and First Amendment practitioners will offer Amy their aid. I'm one of them. Amy and Marc: if I can do anything, pro bono, to help you with this, including pursuing Magdee after you win your SLAPP motion to enforce an attorney fee judgment against her, or a malicious prosecution suit against Roberts and Magdee, let me know — I'm in. Other lawbloggers, I challenge you to step up.

Nor should this be pretty for Roberts or Magee. This is a loathsome, thuggish demand, uttered in service of a contemptible privilege to assault strangers, all as a result of our lamentable tolerance of degradation of our rights as Americans. Many people criticized Amy's story about this incident on the grounds that Thedala Magdee was "just doing her job" — that she's a low-paid TSA employee doing as she has been instructed, and that it's somehow objectionable to call her out. I submit that this mentality is part of what lets the Thedala Magees of the world grope us with impunity.

The TSA's approach to security theater is unjust. It's ineffective. Groping people without reasonable suspicion, let alone probable cause, ought not be tolerated. We only tolerate it because we have collectively allowed the government to frighten us out of our wits — for the most part, we have yielded to the TSA's demand for unquestioning compliance. We have created a safe space — not for rights, not for travel, but for people to get paid an hourly wage to poke strangers in the genitals, and to poke harder if they object. We shouldn't. We should make a scene, like Amy did. We should call out people who choose to make money following unjust orders to grope strangers. The Thedala Magees of the nation should be subject to "hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy," should have their reputations damaged, and deserve to experience emotional distress. They are doing vile things to their fellow citizens for money. No convention of decency or courtesy requires us to pretend that is acceptable, even if the government tells them that it is.

It's ten years out from 9/11 next week, and our government's grasping quest for more power over our daily lives is not slowing. We're not going to get satisfaction through elections; most politicians either support the security state or are too spineless to challenge it. The only way we're going to get change is through action — through calling out wrong when we see it. Amy was wronged. She called it out. We should support her.

And if Thedala Magee and other TSA employees don't like it, I suggest they go pursue a job that doesn't involve sexual assault.

Other posts on the threat:

TechDirt
Crime and Federalism
Defending People
Advice Goddess
Amy Derby

Last 5 posts by Ken White

118 Comments

95 Comments

  1. ES  •  Sep 6, 2011 @1:03 pm

    "Tortuous" — You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  2. Barron Barnett  •  Sep 6, 2011 @1:12 pm

    Thanks for the heads up Popehat, I'll be tossing it on the list tonight.

    These people have no idea what abuse really is. ES I think nailed it on the head.

  3. Unix-Jedi  •  Sep 6, 2011 @1:18 pm

    I almost agree with everything here.

    We only tolerate it because we have collectively allowed the government to frighten us out of our wits — for the most part, we have yielded to the TSA’s demand for unquestioning compliance.

    But that, I have to take some issue to. I don't know anybody who was "frightened". I know most people have resigned to just dealing with whatever little government intrusion there was – I don't know anybody who likes, or defends the TSA, and more than few police I know actively hate how they're reducing respect for the badge-wearing "real cops".

    It was done as part of the whole rest of nanny-state government, "We must federalize to professionalize" – and most people I know correctly understood that the TSA as implemented up to know wouldn't have stopped 9/11 if in place at the time. It's apathy, not fear. Any fear that exists is that as long as there isn't mass revolt, if you're the only one who shows up against the TSA, your life is in for a very rough spot.

    Got kids? Job? Well, we'll see what happens after this investigation. So people just be quiet, as long as it stays mostly quiet, and isn't that invasive (note the drop in air travel as people are opting-out and voting that way).

    What the TSA most definitely does not want is cause celebres and celebrities. They work best by a looming thuggery, quietly, with the hint of Really Bad Things If You Aren't Good Boys And Girls And This Will Go On Your Public Record!

    I suspect that Ms. Magee's supervisors and superiors might have a little bit to say about this to her.

  4. Mad Rocket Scientist  •  Sep 6, 2011 @1:19 pm

    The TSA knows that all such theatrics against them can be met with the thugishness of the govt (criminal charges, no-fly lists, etc.) and that the average Joe can not afford to stand against that, either because of the legal fees (there are not enough pro-bono lawyers willing to go up against the Fed to go around), or because the loss of the ability to fly would damage their career/livelihood.

    We need people like Alkon to take the hits at first, because they can get the word out, and they can afford to spend the money and time to fight it and make a spectacle of it.

  5. Mad Rocket Scientist  •  Sep 6, 2011 @1:23 pm

    And I see that Unix-Jedi has said basically the same thing…

  6. Jonathan Edelstein  •  Sep 6, 2011 @2:37 pm

    Oh, please let this lady sue, and let it go to trial. I'd pay money to see Marc Randazza take her apart on the stand.

  7. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 6, 2011 @3:09 pm

    Please make Marc tell me what day this goes to court, if it does. Even for motion hearings, I want to be there to watch him utterly destroy this feckless lawyer.

    God, and I forgot to pick up popcorn at the store.

  8. John David Galt  •  Sep 6, 2011 @3:27 pm

    I have not liked Randazza since first encountering him on the plaintiff's side of copyright-troll cases against downloaders. But at least this time he seems to have found a victim who deserves what he's going to do to them.

  9. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 6, 2011 @3:41 pm

    JDG, Marc has served at council for many clients who have been deserving of his talents.

    The RIAA is not the only client he's ever had.

  10. SPQR  •  Sep 6, 2011 @3:47 pm

    Go Amy.

  11. moldor  •  Sep 6, 2011 @4:59 pm

    And the strange thing is the TSA don't realise that, by taking these insane and, for the most part, completely unnecessary "precautions" the terrorists have already WON – economic disruption, people !!

    TSA, the friendliest Agency – http://twitpic.com/3yieav

    New TSA Checkpoint sign – http://twitpic.com/38h3ma

    And they wonder why people don't travel by air more..:-(

  12. Fisher1949  •  Sep 6, 2011 @5:27 pm

    I trust that Amy Alkon will be victorious and hope that she counter sues her assailant. I will gladly contribute to her legal fund and appreciate that she exposed these abusive thugs for the criminals that they are.

    TSA attracts misfits that delight in abusing their piece of authority by harassing. molesting and humiliating the people they are supposed to be protecting.

    In the wake of 9/11 Congress gave DHS carte blanche to do whatever they want to the American people. The result is that the department has assaulted their own citizens and carried out crimes against humanity and the Constitution.

    This has culminated in TSA digitally strip searching and reaching into the pants of children with impunity. It is no wonder TSA complaints are up 40% over last year. This is unacceptable and those responsible must be held accountable.

  13. Ken  •  Sep 6, 2011 @5:46 pm

    An indication of how badly Vicki Roberts has underestimated the Streisand Effect:

    Someone just got here by Googling "Thedala Magee, TSA Raper".

  14. anonymous  •  Sep 6, 2011 @6:47 pm

    If we get to a point where there's a donation tin, please make it known. I will donate.

  15. Reasonable Compromise  •  Sep 6, 2011 @9:26 pm

    I thought all the research had proven that the body scanners are no significant risk to health.

    Can't people just use them and avoid these situations entirely?

  16. PM JONES  •  Sep 6, 2011 @9:40 pm

    I have a friend who has the misfortune of requiring a double radical mstectomy. On a recent airport scan, she was pulled aside, and the attendant examined her chest, with her hands and roughly squeezing and poking her fingers and plams here and there beneath each prosthesis. She roughly moved them up and down an back and forth. All this in front of dozens of spectators.

    I've been a feminist even before Gloria Steinem crystallized the fact that it wasn't just me who saw & experienced the treatment of women as mere sex objects and 3nd class citizens – less respect and equality than that afforded to black men. That's why my HOWEVER* comment may seem odd.

    Non-Muslim women are treated like the passenger mentioned above. Yet, the TSA has decided that Mulsin women can only be touched on the back of her neck and the shoulders – and this must be done only in the presence of a male relative or other male guardian.TSA says their policy is based on respect for the Muslim religion. Anyone know of any Christian-Judeo policies that condone women being pysically and asexually assaulted?

  17. G Thompson  •  Sep 6, 2011 @10:48 pm

    I did a few comments on this over at Techdirt (Mainlty to people who think this is actually defamatory *eye roll*) so I wot say much more here other than the Streisand Effect is picking up momentum.
    I did a quick Google search on the TSA Agents name and google in it's infinite subliminal suggestive mode gave me the suggestion of "tsa groper" at beginning of the text. EEEK!

    Oh and Forbes can now be added to the probably ever growing list. Yeah Forbe, and they even have the words rape & TSA in the heading.

    Oh, what the bejeesus is "Celebrity Justice", and do I really want to know?

  18. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 6, 2011 @11:21 pm

    "Anyone know of any Christian-Judeo policies that condone women being pysically and asexually assaulted?"

    In my faith, I'm allowed to kill – slowly – anyone who pulls that shit in front of me, no matter who the victim is.

  19. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 6, 2011 @11:22 pm

    "Oh, what the bejeesus is “Celebrity Justice”, and do I really want to know?"

    It is to the legal system what Jersey Shore is to sanity.

  20. marco73  •  Sep 7, 2011 @4:47 am

    The TSA goons think they can get away with this sort of conduct for the very same reason that "contempt of cop" beatings have been going on for so long: because mainly cop beatings used to be on poor people in a dark alley with no witnesses.
    Cops are furious about now being filmed on the job, and there are many cases in the public eye where people are being prosecuted for felony "wiretaping" when they are just standing on a public street filming a public servant, beating up a citizen. This will end badly for the cops. It is just a matter of time.
    The TSA goons are molesting and humiliating elderly cancer patients, small children, mentally challenged people, nursing mothers, and everyone else under the sun. They are conducting this activity in a well-lighted place in front of dozens of witnesses. This will end badly for the goons. It is just a matter of time.
    The scanners are a huge mistake, and everyone knows it. I've taken several flights around the country this year, and I am amazed that in different airports, on different days and at different times of day, I see scanners roped off with no one using them.
    The molesting is going to stop. Wait till Thedala has to lay out some coin from her own pocket.

  21. Joel Harding  •  Sep 7, 2011 @5:16 am

    Both attorney, Roberts, and client, Magee are pieces of… work. I applaud your offer of assistance to Ms. Alkon, it's nice to see good people involved.

    This case is important to me because it will send a clear message to TSA employees (and hopefully supervisors): you are accountable to "we the people". The thuggish tactics used by this particular TSA employees is deplorable, and the attorney representing her is questionable, at least. I hope attorney and client both go down in flames (figuratively, of course). Next Vicki Roberts may go after me for.. *gasp* pointing out the obvious! RestMyCase.com, my a@@.

  22. Ruckus  •  Sep 7, 2011 @6:12 am

    Bring it on Ms Magee. I haven't had a good fight since Obama ran (I lost that one but people are leaning my way now in droves ) I would be happy to send a check. If this had happend to my sister, daughter, Mother–I would sue at the drop of a hat. Some of these agents are obviously Frustrated Lesbians. The need to add something to don't ask, don't tell. Don't ask, don't tell and don't do !

  23. Chasmosaur  •  Sep 7, 2011 @6:16 am

    I loathe the TSA, I truly do. But a small part of me is kind of pleased with the widespread enhanced pat-downs. Because I've been subject to them since late 2001 (and actually, these pat-downs are less intrusive than what I went through).

    I'm a woman of Mediterranean descent (not Arabic), so I have olive skin, dark hair and dark eyes. Right after female suicide bombers became more prevalent? I was regularly selected for "random screening", through 2004. There must have been a decision female bombers weren't a threat after a while, because it mercifully died down after that, with only occasional searches that mostly dealt with emptying my carry-ons and me getting a grilling.

    While I admit no one ever put their fingers in my genitalia, I was subjected to flat-of-palm pat-downs (that didn't go under my breast line but over the front of them, with strokes over my hips hard enough to take off my pants one memorable time). When I mentioned it to friends and family, all said "well, it's to keep us safe from the terrorists." No outrage, just acquiescence to the fear. I do frequently wonder if I had been blond and blue-eyed (or a red-head with a syndicated column, like Ms. Alkon) if it would have been met with more anger. Because I've noticed that the new enhanced pat-downs mostly infuriate those who haven't had to go through them before.

    This could have been nipped in the bud 10 years ago. No one said "boo." Everyone succumbed to the "security theater." (I deeply love Bruce Schneier.) All I can do is urge people to write letters to their members in Congress – and local state legislators AND local airport authorities – complaining about this. Hopefully lawsuits like this will help set a precedent as well. In the meantime? Welcome to my world.

  24. pinebot  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:12 am

    Please grow up and stop whining. It's not "sexual assault" when you get patted down for safety reasons! We've all been subjected to this at one point or another. How touchy are you? If you don't like it take another form of transportation – no one is forcing you to fly. I'll tell you what – why don't we agree to have two separate flights, one for the those who are willing to be subjected to security and one where you can just sail right onto the plane un-"molested". Please feel free to take unsecured plane with the suicide bombers.

  25. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:20 am

    Not sure if troll, or just poor reading comprehension.

    Eh. So, pinebot, it's your position that a patdown involves fingers between the labia? Really?

    Also, I don't have a problem with two security lines – one for people insisting on rational evidence-based approaches and one ready to submit to whatever the government demands this week.

  26. pinebot  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:34 am

    Ken I'd love to see the video evidence of the side of someone's hand fitting between someone's labia *through their pants* (and presumably underwear as well). Sounds like a publicity seeker to me. And no one said TSA was perfect (in fact I think we all know it sucks), but crying "rape" is ridiculous and it just makes it tougher for everyone. re-read the post, the "victim" says "I felt it important to make a spectacle of what they are doing to us, to make it uncomfortable for them to violate us and our rights, so I let the tears come. In fact, I sobbed my guts out. Loudly. Very loudly". She states her agenda from the outset, how credible is anything she says subsequently?

  27. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:42 am

    Nope. Definitely a troll…

  28. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:44 am

    So what it comes down to is this: despite widespread nationwide reports of inappropriate touching, you're inclined to trust the government and disbelieve it's critics. Also, government rhetoric about why we ought to be touched by strangers is to be respected, but calling an involuntary fingering "rape" is objectionable. Groping people in public — and doing so more forcefully if they decline a questionable scan — is not making a scene, but loudly objecting is. And if the government says that a thing is necessary for our safety, then it just is.

    You're the perfect modern citizen.

  29. pinebot  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:44 am

    Troll definition: Anyone who disagrees with me, of course!

  30. Matthew  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:47 am

    Stupid stupid stupid! And I'm referring to Amy.

    Think about this for a minute. Was Amy complaining to the proper person? No, of course not. The agents at the gates are following an idiotic procedure that was handed down to them from their administrative superiors and the federal government. When she starts making life difficult for the gate agents, a not unusual response would be to become frustrated and angry in return. I feel for Amy, but I feel for Thedala as well. She was put in a completely untenable position by being caught between her superiors, including the government, and an irate passenger.

    Is a lawsuit an appropriate response? Likely not, but Amy is not faultless here. She started this ridiculous ball rolling and kept it rolling. Neither side has acted like mature adults. The problem isn't, for the most part, the individual agents. The problem comes initially from those completely uninvolved (terrorists or the like), followed by the government and its absurd response with these invasive and inefficient security measures, followed by the culture who is so easily offended and vocal when more efficient and less invasive means of prevention are suggested that involve the appearance of bigotry without actually including it (see Israel's means of security and their "profiling" that has nothing to do with race).

    Amy, don't scream at the agent and embarrass her. Go scream at the administration and governance that put her there and told her to do that! Thedala, cool your jets and let it go, even if that means you need counseling help to grieve through the shame. But for heaven's sake, quit making a giant mess that doesn't actually solve anything!

  31. Laura K  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:49 am

    Ken, I might not agree with the all of the political opinions I find on your site all the time but I love it. I am so glad you posted this story and I think you're truly honorable for offering to help Amy pro bono.

    Pinebot, at this time I would like to extend my sympathy to any human being genetically linked to you in the past, present or future with the misfortune to posses two X chromosones. I would also like to commend their incredible and Buddha-like compassion for not dropping you off in a seedy area of Montreal with no ID at 3am.

  32. A Critic  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:53 am

    Note to Pinebot and other concerned parties:

    This patdown is an incredibly ineffective search method. It serves no genuine security purpose.

    To really search someone, as I was taught in the Marines, you must grab and pull the clothing. It should be considerably more invasive than the current patdown method. Otherwise cleverly concealed contraband will likely be missed as it will be mistaken for part of the body.

    Further, the person being searched should be on the ground. They should be covered by additional people holding loaded weapons at them. This is a critical step as any bomber who is being searched will try to detonate the bomb upon it's discovery.

    It will be a while before even Pinebot and other fools are willing to accept that…so we get stuck with gaterape.

  33. Laura K  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:55 am

    Um…I forgot to add, Pinebot, 'after getting you thoroughly soused, removing all your money and cards and stiffing you with a bar tab'

  34. Dan Weber  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:55 am

    An indication of how badly Vicki Roberts has underestimated the Streisand Effect:

    I don't think Vicki Roberts underestimated that. I think she just didn't care if her client would be made worse off by her actions.

  35. Fret  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:58 am

    That PDF needs a Saucy Wink tag.

  36. Dan Weber  •  Sep 7, 2011 @8:03 am

    That PDF needs a Saucy Wink tag.

    Oh, definitely. But that seems exactly like what Ms. Alkon wants: not someone who will settle the case as quickly as possible, but someone who will fight for your cause when you desire justice.

  37. Mu  •  Sep 7, 2011 @8:07 am

    I wonder, if you start a lawsuit, can you claim qualified immunity against counterclaims? With other words, is this risk free for the groper?

  38. pinebot  •  Sep 7, 2011 @8:12 am

    Laura, any tips for managing life day to day with all that pent up rage and anger?

  39. marco73  •  Sep 7, 2011 @8:18 am

    Chasmosaur, I think the way you've been treated is deplorable. I don't think that sort of treatment keeps anyone safe from anything.
    My wife is of Carribbean descent, and has olive skin, dark hair and dark eyes. I am amazed that whenever we go through security, in whatever venue, the scrutiny leveled on her is directly proportional to how far away I am standing. No one could ever mistake me for anything but a large Midwestern blue-eyed farm boy. They don't even look at my carry on.
    If I'm right with her, there is no scrutiny at all. If I am behind her by a few feet, or it isn't evident that we are traveling together, she is up for harsher treatment. But as soon as I ask her, "honey, what's the hold up", we are waved right on through.
    It's an unfortunate state of affairs that the only way to protect yourself from goons is bring along someone larger than the goons.

  40. washington  •  Sep 7, 2011 @8:30 am

    you people are sick to condone the current practices of the TSA. Maybe those of you that favor their method of searches would like to join the TSA to stick your fingers into the vagina's of little girls…sick sick people! How would you all like it for a stranger to stick their fingers into the vagina's of your daughters? You think that they are making it safer for you to fly by these molestations? Think again! If a person volunteered to go through their radiation zapper, those machines wouldn't pick up on explosive materials anyway. Ben Franklin once said "when citizens give up their freedoms for safety, they will end up getting neither". Think about that retards.

  41. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 7, 2011 @8:50 am

    @Marco73,

    I'm just gonna go out on a limb here, but I'm going to guess that your wife is very attractive…

    Think that might have something to do with it, and why your proximity is a deterrent? :)

  42. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 7, 2011 @8:51 am

    Uh, Washington, you do realize the only person here who is OK with the TSA is pinebot, right?

    Why are you directing your stupidity at all of us?

  43. Chasmosaur  •  Sep 7, 2011 @8:57 am

    First a general comment – when I said I was glad, I somehow edited out the part where it meant I was happy because more people will agitate to make this stop. I'm not happy people are being groped, per se, but now that it applies to everyone – not just us people who aren't "All American" looking (despite being an American) – then maybe enough people will complain and this inane !@#$%^&* will stop.

    Second – @marco73:

    Yeah, my husband is a blue-eyed red-head, and we have experienced the same phenomenon. I'm chosen for AIT, he's not. I get a pat-down almost every time I fly (mostly because I opt out of the AIT – don't care if you want to look at me naked, I don't trust the radiation testing, but also I've discovered that my pantiliner will make me eligible for a pat-down so I might as well skip the AIT), he hasn't gotten one yet and he travels more than I do. Whenever they yank me and then see I'm with my husband, then the pat down is far more cursory. If I'm by myself, the pat-down is a little more rigorous.

    Still, I'd take these current pat-downs over the old ones. Because people are complaining now, they've gotten a little more careful. The last two times, they didn't even go inside my waistband, and one barely went up the inside of my thighs.

  44. mojo  •  Sep 7, 2011 @9:01 am

    Well, at least there was no saucy wink, eh?

    At least, as far as we know…

  45. pinebot  •  Sep 7, 2011 @9:07 am

    Umm…as I stated in a prior post, the TSA sucks. Let me be even more clear – I hate the TSA. But to somehow imply that (even over-aggressive) TSA searches are tantamount to rape and that somehow this is leading us down a slippery slope to some kind of Orwellian police state is nothing short of delusional. Is that what you all truly believe? This country certainly faces many dangers right now, but that one is not high on the list. The self-righteousness, histrionics and hyperbole here are unbelievable. Get over yourselves.

  46. Sommer Gentry  •  Sep 7, 2011 @9:41 am

    Thedala Magee is a rapist. I am very glad to hear that she is suffering emotionally as a result of having harmed so many innocent people in the course of her "work" as a rapist. I have been similarly raped by a TSA agent. Thank you, thank you, Amy Alkon, for putting the full truth of what is going on in front of the whole world to see. And thank you, popehat, for your excellent blog post about this sorry, sorry situation. TSA, your days of sexually abusing people are numbered.

  47. Antonin I. Pribetic  •  Sep 7, 2011 @10:00 am

    Pinebot:

    Anyone who thinks that state-sanctioned sexual groping is an acceptable trade-off for greater security is a prime candidate for a TSA job, if that's the kind of job your pining for.

  48. Exodor  •  Sep 7, 2011 @10:17 am

    Mr. Randazza's letter is amazing:

    "
    Your client also seems to have been persuaded that Ms. Alkon’s statements constitute “intentional infliction of emotional distress” (“IIED”). Any emotional harm suffered by Magee is a self-inflicted wound, and likely a broader consequence of working for the TSA. A TSA agent threatening to sue a citizen for IIED is one of the most ironic events I can imagine. Perhaps if you are looking for similarly situated clients, you could find surviving members of the Montgomery, Alabama police department to sue civil rights marchers for the stress that they forced them to endure when they got all uppity and made the police attack them with fire hoses. I am certain that Zacharias Moussaoui feels a bit hurt about how people talk about him. Finally, I bet you could sue Trey Parker and Matthew Stone, the creators of South Park, on behalf of Sadaam Hussein’s estate"

    Holy. Shit.

  49. Laura K  •  Sep 7, 2011 @10:39 am

    Pinebot since you seem so determined to keep…um….favoring…..this site with these opinions I ask, with some admitted degree of morbid curiosity, what a man or a woman has to endure for you to consider their account of a sexual assault or rape valid. Or, for you to at least accord them some basic dignity and sympathy. Your statements continue to intimate a truly horrifying existence for any woman who knows you or is stuck having you in her life in any context whatsoever.

  50. A Critic  •  Sep 7, 2011 @10:40 am

    "TSA searches are tantamount to rape"

    They aren't searches. One could easily hide bombs, knives, guns, drugs, etc and these "searches" won't find them. You don't find a gun by touching a woman's labia or a man's anus.

    It is rape. It is part of the slippery slope down to an Orwellian police state (we are already there, but the bottom is a long ways off).

    This country certainly faces many dangers right now, but that one is not high on the list.

    Yes it is. This is the primary means of training the average citizen to accept unconstitutional, unnecessary, counterproductive, invasive searches as a routine part of life. Judging from the number of people who agree with you it is working quite well.

  51. Jenny  •  Sep 7, 2011 @10:42 am

    Pinebot – .you admit the TSA goes too far. You claim to hate them.

    And yet you line up to defend them when one of their agents molests a woman.

    I truly pity you.

  52. piperTom  •  Sep 7, 2011 @10:50 am

    Like several others, I will donate if that option opens. (Too, too many blogs have their own "donate" button AND are covering this — Google enhancement needed.)

    Like Ken, I would love to see the option open for an "airline only" security flight. Lost business would soon force the TSA option closed.

    My CongressCritter is Brad Miller — small chance HE will pay any attention. But I'll write him anyway.

  53. Shylock Holmes  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:00 am

    It's one thing to draw a paycheck from the TSA and join the ranks of the petty thugs who get their jollies by feeling up random strangers. That's bad enough, but not necessarily surprising – there's loads of people who don't reflect too much on the morality of their employment.

    It's entirely another to have such a metastasized entitlement complex that you think it's appropriate to sue someone who had the nerve to verbally complain about your actions. As if being a TSA agent entitles you to not only molest people, but have your delicate feelings protected (to the tune of a $500K payday) from their cruel words afterward.

    What a repulsive human being.

  54. Nick  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:04 am

    Actually, Pinebot's suggestlon to "have two separate flights, one for the those who are willing to be subjected to security and one where you can just sail right onto the plane" is a fantastic idea. It's the free market in action. I would be happy to get on an un-secure plane with all those un-secure passengers and I bet a lot of other people would be too.

  55. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:10 am

    But to somehow imply that (even over-aggressive) TSA searches are tantamount to rape and that somehow this is leading us down a slippery slope to some kind of Orwellian police state is nothing short of delusional. Is that what you all truly believe? This country certainly faces many dangers right now, but that one is not high on the list. The self-righteousness, histrionics and hyperbole here are unbelievable. Get over yourselves.

    Here's the thing, Pinebot. The road to a security state that violates our rights in catastrophic ways is incremental. It's a game of inches. Cameras everywhere, for our own good? That's an inch. Broader powers for government searches of data? That's an inch. Sneak-a-peak powers that the FBI will use on drugs rather than terrorism? That's an inch. The concept that we have to put up with intrusive searches of our bodies because the government tells us they are necessary, despite the lack of evidence that they work? That's an inch.

    You say "Orwellian state" as a sneer. Calling this an Orwellian state would be an exaggeration. We have been, however, marching inexorably towards greater and greater government power over individuals. That comes through the drug war, that comes through forty years of insipid "tough on crime" rhetoric, that comes through cultural deference to law enforcement, that comes through trends we talk about here like police abuse and censorship. And, certainly, it comes from the fact that complete strangers can touch your private parts and you're expected to take it.

    The touching is a signifier. It's not just the immediate touch. It's the fact that you have to put up with it, despite it being theater. It's the fact that putting up with it is part of the government conditioning you to put up with irrational and intrusive demands. After all, if a polyester-clad stranger can grasp your junk for no good reason, what else will you be convinced to endure?

    Your attitude is the one the government counts on: this is for your own good, calm down, don't use rough language, don't object too vigorously, let's discuss this calmly like we're evaluating zoning laws or some dull aspect of regulation. The government wants us to do what you urge — to ignore the emotive impact of being expected to put up with strangers touching us, and just accept that the government only does what's right. At most, the government wants us to engage in calm parliamentary debate and wait for the political process to work it out.

    I don't accept it. Our politicians are worthless on these issues. The few who object are marginalized. The only way we're going to get change is to speak frankly, loudly, and without concern for delicate feelings.

    One example of delicate feelings: complaining that it's improper to use the word "rape" to describe a stranger running her fingers along a woman's labia and between them. Would "sexual assault" be more clinically correct? Perhaps. But rape is a perfectly reasonable rhetorical label. It's odd that anyone objects to such a rhetorical device when coming from a gropee, but says nothing at the barrage of rhetorical excess the government uses to justify its acts to us.

    Also, Pinebot, did you read the links to other accounts of abuse by TSA agents? Are they all lying? Are they all histrionic?

  56. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:11 am

    Ken, I might not agree with the all of the political opinions I find on your site all the time but I love it.

    Thank you. I enjoy hearing from people who disagree with me, just as I enjoy reading the blogs of people with whom I disagree. Amy Alkon and I probably disagree vigorously on a number of big issues. That doesn't matter to this particular analysis.

  57. Dan Danknick  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:14 am

    I offered to contribute and here was Marc's reply:

    Ms Alkon would be honored if contributors paid down her bill. If you wish to contribute, you can mail a check to:

    Randazza Legal Group
    PO box 5516
    Gloucester, ma 01930

    Note on memo line, Alkon LDF

  58. Rich  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:16 am

    I don't think anyone addressed this directly, but if this proceeds to suit and Ms. Alkon counterclaims for violation of her civil rights and various torts, will Magee be defended by DoJ on the counterclaims and what are the chances a court will find that Magee is immune (whether qualified or absolute) from liability on the counterclaims?

  59. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:17 am

    Amy, don’t scream at the agent and embarrass her. Go scream at the administration and governance that put her there and told her to do that! Thedala, cool your jets and let it go, even if that means you need counseling help to grieve through the shame. But for heaven’s sake, quit making a giant mess that doesn’t actually solve anything!

    Matthew, the "go complain politely in writing to the right level of bureaucrat" might be well-mannered, but it's a waste of time. It will be ignored. Nothing will happen. The government counts on us wanting to avoid unpleasantness and tumult to make us comply with things we ought not have to endure.

    Amy's taking a different approach — complaining vividly and forcefully, in public, when asked to submit to something that's unacceptable. That's a strategy that is actually calculated to get attention to the issue, dramatize the fact that what's happening is wrong, and force the TSA to reconsider.

  60. Grandy  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:26 am

    Point of fact, but the Bureaucracy is structurally arranged such that those types of complaints are focused down certain paths, where they are more easily ignored. Ignoring them is not a conscious act, but rather a matter of reflex.

    Further more, there is a time and place to make a stand. I would submit this is one such time (but this is not the only such time; it happens to be an opportunity that was taken). There's already *far* too much being allowed where the TSA is concerned.

  61. Dianne  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:36 am

    I'm sorry this happened to Amy. But, really, America – you've screwed travel for ALL of us forever. Never pick on countries whose people don't care if they blow up. Okay?

  62. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:38 am

    I can't help but notice that a number of people — here and elsewhere, particularly Reddit — are expressing skepticism that what Amy describes is physically possible.

    Apparently these people have never tried for third base with a woman wearing very thin pants. Just sayin'.

  63. marco73  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:46 am

    @Scott – yes, my wife is very attractive. I consider myself one lucky guy.
    @Chasmosaur – sounds like your husband is also a lucky guy.
    You've related a phenomenon I've experienced as long as I've been with my wife and her relatives. The only way to shut down goons is to bring along someone larger than the goon.
    @Ken – couldn't find anything with a simple search, but has the TSA put out any kind of statement about this? Certainly there is enough traffic to warrant some sort of public response. Are they going to back up their agent's actions, or not?

  64. A Critic  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:54 am

    Calling this an Orwellian state would be an exaggeration.

    Really? I read Orwell. I read the news. The similarities are more striking than the differences.

  65. Paul  •  Sep 7, 2011 @11:57 am

    Pinebot said: Ken I’d love to see the video evidence of the side of someone’s hand fitting between someone’s labia *through their pants* (and presumably underwear as well)

    Pinebot, it shows up much you keep up on the issue, were you even aware these searches were being done inside the undergarments?

  66. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @12:08 pm

    @marco73: Well, blogger bob hasn't written about it yet.

  67. Paul  •  Sep 7, 2011 @12:15 pm

    I spoke too soon with my reply to Pinebot. I know some searches take place inside the underwear, it's not clear that that was the case here.

  68. Laura K  •  Sep 7, 2011 @12:27 pm

    Um…Shylock? Guys? Here are some concerns I have with some stuff I am reading here. I think the TSA has demonstrated itself to be an almost inherrently flawed nanny-organization that is failing to accomplish a stated goal (I mean if people are getting sexually assaulted and colostomy patients are being terrorized and the damned Asshat Underware bomber could still get on board that seems quite apparent.)

    It's just this…
    I have been unemployed for a year and a half. I am eeking out a thin income substitute teaching, and desperately searching for any. kind. of. work. And I find myself remembering my late grandfather who, when the Great Depression forced him to leave medical school, went to work selling pots and pans and then eventually worked in a bank, because that's what you did to support your family. I worked a horrible job when my husband was alive to support our family. Grandpa never became a doctor. Now, he also never became a rapist, so to move my point along…I'm wondering if an EQUAL problem to the sexual assaults here is that organizations like the TSA seem to be a particular haven for bullies. 'Bully' may sound like a trite word. I'm gambling that the parents on this blog will understand that it is not. Bullies can grow up to repent…but they can also grow up looking for jobs that allow them to revel and delight in demeaning, humiliating and violating their peers. So I guess ultimately I'm responding to Shylock's comment by asking 'how is it fair to classify as 'thugs' all people in the TSA–I mean what does that resolve about this particular unjust situation, and do you know them all personally–I mean the ones who DON'T go on Magee-ish power trips of personal violation–who might be doing the job to feed their kids, and trying to do it right and some what competently/respectfully?' And I'm asking everybody (almost) 'Is there a way to accomplish effective airline security and flush these predators into a rat infested sewer someplace?

  69. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @12:49 pm

    Wow, Reddit's got a lot of victim-blamers and TSA-fluffers in their comment thread.

  70. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @12:51 pm

    @Laura K: I don't think it's that the TSA attracts bullies. I think it's more that arbitrary power creates its own cruelty and contempt.

  71. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 7, 2011 @12:52 pm

    That surprises you?

  72. Laura K  •  Sep 7, 2011 @1:08 pm

    Ken, thanks. Maybe it could be both the problem of what arbitrary power creates and the stuff some environments attract–like predators. Respectfully, after reading your point, I'm leaning that way.

    In any event I hope the victim blamers and TSA predators alike get their own specialplace in hell right next to the child molesters and people who talk in the theater.

  73. Charlemagne  •  Sep 7, 2011 @2:00 pm

    Can someone volunteer to proofread Randazza's work. Rhetorically superb, gramaticly and syntactically suspect.

  74. Charlemagne  •  Sep 7, 2011 @2:01 pm

    Hey, I right clicked and the damn browser posted that before I could proofread it. Oh, the irony!

  75. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @2:10 pm

    Charlemagne, you should have stuck by "that was intentional irony." That's how we got away with a misspelling in our title for three years.

  76. Shylock Holmes  •  Sep 7, 2011 @2:25 pm

    @Laura, I don't think everyone in the TSA is a thug, and to the extent I implied that, I agree it was hyperbole.

    But the TSA has two problems.

    One is the one you note – that it tends to attract people who like having power over average citizens.

    The other is Ken's point about the Stanford Prison experiment – giving people unchecked power encourages them to act in unfair ways, even if they're not nasty in other contexts. In other words, it produces bad behavior out of ordinary people.

    And what you end up with is a culture that is extremely hostile towards any questioning of its authority – even once they've determined that you're not actually a security threat, they will punish you for showing any signs of not simply going along with whatever they want. Feeling up your labia four times for refusing a the bodyscan is not really a security question, but a punishment.

    And one end point of that culture is people who make civil legal threats against those who write on the internet about what happened to them. Because in their mind, you have no right to disobey them.

    Now, I have the luxury of not having to face the choice between working at the TSA or long term unemployment. And I don't begrudge people this decision.

    But forgiving a thief who steals to feed his starving family doesn't mean that theft isn't wrong. Same goes for molesting crying women in public.

  77. ShelbyC  •  Sep 7, 2011 @4:58 pm

    State AG's like to grandstand enough that I'm actually surprised that we haven't seen any charges against TSA agents. As I understand it, there's no barrier to a state alleging that an agent went beyond what they needed to do and letting a jury sort is out, is there?

  78. Laura K  •  Sep 7, 2011 @6:48 pm

    Hi, Shylock, I am totally with you on your response there–I'm just grateful you clarified your statement about thugs in the TSA and hyperbole. I suspected it was hyperbole, but because of my economic situation and my family's history I really wanted to ask you to clarify whether or not it was. It may seem like a small thing. I so appreciate it all the same. Thank you so much.

  79. Ken  •  Sep 7, 2011 @7:06 pm

    Kudos @Laura K for adding a geek reference, without which any Popehat thread is woefully incomplete.

  80. SPQR  •  Sep 8, 2011 @9:58 am

    ShelbyC, there is a constitutional bar to such prosecutions.

  81. bill.  •  Sep 8, 2011 @10:30 am

    I don’t think it’s that the TSA attracts bullies. I think it’s more that arbitrary power creates its own cruelty and contempt.

    At LanguageHat, a post about the language in Master and Commander includes this excellent quote from the book: "I am opposed to authority, that egg of misery and oppression; I am opposed to it largely for what it does to those who exercise it."

  82. ShelbyC  •  Sep 8, 2011 @1:21 pm

    @SPQR, I'm not sure why. Jamming fingers into a woman's vagina for the purpose of humiliating her isn't allowed under federal law, is it?.

  83. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 8, 2011 @1:36 pm

    No Shelby, but it remains that Sovereign Immunity still applies, unless a judge rules otherwise.

    You have to ask permission to sue, though it would be interesting to see what the government's argument would be to defend against such an attempt.

  84. ShelbyC  •  Sep 8, 2011 @5:57 pm

    This has nothing to do with sovereign immunity. Im talking about a state procecutor filing state charges against the TSA agent alleging that she committed a state crime that wasn't reasonably within the scope of her federal duties (jamming your fingers into someone's vagina to humiliate them is not legal, even for TSA agents). There is no constitutional barrier to such a prosecution.

  85. SPQR  •  Sep 8, 2011 @8:23 pm

    ShelbyC, because it plainly was within her "duties". See Lon Horuchi .

  86. ShelbyC  •  Sep 9, 2011 @11:29 am

    Not if they were done for the purpose of humilitating her, and not to check for a bomb. Of course, even if the first one was within her duites, the next three were not. So, maybe she want to argue that she was really checking for a bomb and not trying to humiliate her, we can let a jury decide.

  87. SPQR  •  Sep 9, 2011 @8:20 pm

    Like I said, the Ninth Circuit would not agree with you.

  88. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 10, 2011 @2:36 pm

    Yeah, but having the 9th circuit not agree with you is, frankly, a badge of honor…

  89. John Q. Galt  •  Sep 10, 2011 @11:24 pm

    Somebody have Thedala Magee's dox? Anon wants to get in "touch" with her.

  90. SPQR  •  Sep 11, 2011 @9:36 am

    There is that Scott.

  91. Angela Castaneda  •  Sep 14, 2011 @7:35 pm

    We need to know what this Magee thug looks like, where she lives, her home phone number, her email address, and the like.

    Why? Because the only redress we have to government outrages is to remonstrate with the perpetrators in person; not to harass them, but to try to show them the error of their ways in being thugs for the government.

    Think about it: If every government employee tempted to unfairly make life miserable for his/her fellow Americans knew he or she would end up under the public's microscope, he/she would be less inclined to act like a jackbooted thug.

    So: Anybody know anything about this predator?

  92. Ken  •  Sep 14, 2011 @9:34 pm

    Angela, posting addresses and phone numbers is not welcome here. Don't, please.

  93. Angela Castaneda  •  Sep 16, 2011 @2:51 pm

    Ken, I don't know her address, so don't worry.
    But let me ask you and the other bloggers a question: supposing a notorious child molester, who had murdered several of his victims, but had skated free due to legal technicalities, was at large in your area, living secretly in housing provided by the authorities. Wouldn't it be a public service to publish this creep's address?

  94. TrpGreg  •  Sep 23, 2011 @4:09 pm

    Flying less is beginning to be felt by the Commercial Airlines. The airlines think the reason for the drop in number of passengers flying is the world economic mess. Much of the drop off in passengers flying is most likely due to avoidance of the TSA on account of TSA alleged sexual assaults of passengers?
    Grouping of business travel may result less flights utilized, in removal of the TSA employee alleged offenders and saving for companie's travel expense accounts/budgets.
    Recreation closer to home, less flying and more meaning will bring the offenders to justice or force the airlines out of business in less then three years. There really is no sane logic in groping or other S.A.s and using of non-medical personnel for these invasive alleged hate crimes.

  95. guest  •  Nov 2, 2011 @8:25 pm

    When did we as a country lose our sense of decency and discernment?When did it become acceptable for complete stranger's or anyone for that matter to place their hand's and finger's on someones gential's?ESPECIALLY A CHILD'S! This is not about security america this is about desensitizing our culture.When do we say ENOUGH??Somehow my gut tell's me the muslim brotherhood via Obama perpetrated this obsenity. This is 'warfare' perpetrated by those who dispise us and wish to humilate us.We must get back to common sense and decency .and call evil evil and good 'good'.instead of vice versa.

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