TSA Guard: “Get used to radiation”

Going through the line that approaches the security check at Seattle airport, I asked a TSA guard lady if I have to go somewhere else if I want to avoid the scanners.  She said,

“Just tell them when you get up there.  You might want to get used to radiation because Seattle airport will not have any other options very soon.”

I said, “Get used to radiation?”  She confirmed, “Yes”.  I said, “I don’t know about that.”

So, I got up to the conveyor belt, removed my laptop from its bag (that’s the policy) put everything on the belt to be scanned and told the guard that I don’t want to use the scanner.  He showed me some badge that he wears with the warning that reads something like:

By not using the scanner you agree to a physical search which is invasive and includes touching on your inner thighs, buttocks, groin, etc.

He read it extremely fast, as though I was just a nuisance.  He said, “Do you still want a physical search?”  I said, “Want?  No, but I’d prefer it to the scanner.”  He called over his co-worker to search.

Next, he told me to stand in a spot and then asked if I want a private screening.  I said, “Why, is it embarrassing?”  He said something like, “That’s your call.”  So I imagined the 100+ people behind me in line watching this big black guy ram his hands between my thighs into my groin, then I remembered all the cameras that people have and said, “Yes, I’d like a private room.”  Off to the room we went.

He had his superior and another TSA guard come in, presumably as witnesses.  He had blue rubber gloves on and explained every move he would make.  He checked my collar on my shirt back, then using the back of his hand he felt every part of my back.  He checked my legs, rammed his hand into my groin until he “felt resistance”.  He went to the front a repeated it.  When I thought it was done, they got a swab (I thought they were going to swab me) and swabbed the rubber gloves he was wearing.  I asked what that’s for and he said they check the swab for powders.  (I think he said something about explosive powders or something.)  About 10 seconds later they came back and said it’s clear.  I was free to leave.  The Stazi was done with me.

When leaving, I asked him if I’m supposed to tip him.  He laughed and asked if he was really that good.  I said, “Well, maybe not.”  He said, “If you want to, go ahead.”  I opted not to.

When I used to sell cell phones, one of the sales reps used to say “For $5 you get 250 free text messages.”  I can apply this same logic here: Look at all of the freedom we get when we lose our rights.


  1. This is worrisome. The TSA clerk (FYI, “clerk” is their official government job classification, not “agent” or “guard” and, most pointedly, not “officer” as their fake badges say) talking about “no other options very soon” needs to be clarified by TSA management. If it’s a matter of them removing walk-thru metal detectors at the airport in question, then they need to be told “no.” However, if they’re planning to disallow opting out of dangerous, cancer-causing body scans and forcing everyone to be exposed to ionizing X-rays or DNA-damaging terahertz waves then it’s cause for significantly more (and significantly LOUDER) outrage.

    Refusing body scans must always be an option – forcing people to pass through body scanners is never justifiable, no matter how many terrorists it stops or how many lives it saves.

    Remember that air travel is a RIGHT and NOT a privilege as some would have you believe. Reference 49 USC S40103(a)(2) or the Supreme Court case of Kent v. Dulles for proof. We have to fight to protect that right or it WILL be trampled upon by TSA in the name of warm, fuzzy safety and security and fighting the evil terrorist boogeyman.

    Co-Founder, Travel Underground
    Travel Underground: Your Right to Travel – It’s the Law

  2. We are Freedom to Travel USA, an organization dedicated to regaining freedoms taken away from us by the TSA. We believe that suspicionless unwanted touching should not be a condition of travel. We believe that being subject to the equivalent of Peeping Toms without cause should not be a condition of travel. We believe that exposing ourselves to radiation, however small, should not be a condition of travel. We believe that merely the presence of a medical device, in and of itself, should not constitute “probable cause.”

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