Did Just 170,000 Passengers Get Groped by Strangers Last Week? Or a Million?

You know how I mocked the White House for dismissing the problem of gate rape by saying only 170,000 passengers had had their genitalia groped by a stranger working for the government?

I noted that their pushback was potentially inconsistent. According to “administration officials,” just half of one percent of all passengers–or about 170,000–get their junk touched.

For instance, the administration noted that fewer than one half of one percent of the 34 million passengers who traveled on airplanes in or to the U.S. last week were subjected to crotch-area pat-downs.

But that same article quoted the DHS spokesperson saying that one out of a hundred would get groped.

In airports where body screening technology is available, about one in every 100 passengers are given pat-downs, according to another official, Sean Smith, the DHS spokesperson.

Meanwhile, other sources say closer to 3% of passengers get groped.

A Department of Homeland Security official writes that less than 3% of travelers get the controversial aggressive patdowns.

According to one Atlanta Journal Constitution report this week, there are some 24 million people expected to fly in American airports over Thanksgiving week. So 3% of 24 million is 720,000 aggressive patdowns in the U.S. this week, if my math is holding up.

Note, several things may be going on here. First, there’s the question of how many people are flying. The White House says 34 million passengers have passed through security; Rozen is using AJC’s number of 24 million. And there are several ways a person might get groped: if they opt-out of the RapeAScan machine, but also if they set off either the RapeAScan machine or a conventional metal detector. So the lower half percent may be just one of those subsets of the entire group that has been groped. Also, it may be that the numbers of gropes have increased (or decreased) as the procedure has been introduced across the country.

Frankly, I think expecting 170,000 people a week to have their genitalia groped each week by government workers to be unreasonable. But the numbers may be far, far higher.

  1. phred says:

    Napolitano and Pistole need to be fired immediately.

    The TSA could shut down the pornoscanners and revert to non-invasive pat downs today.

    Molesting hundreds of thousands of passengers is indefensible. And it is also worth noting that a subset of these people will be groped every single time they fly due to “anomalies” in the pornoscanners or metal joints that set off metal detectors.

    This is completely indefensible.

    • puppethead says:

      Metal hip, humiliating groping:

      She rubs her hands all over my torso, before informing me that now she is going to insert her hands between my breasts.

      Next she says, “Lift your shirt.” Huh??? Turns out she wants to knead my elastic waistband thoroughly — not sure what explosives I might be hiding in an elastic waistband, but, boy, she is doing a thorough job of kneading my midriff.

      Her next order is to spread my legs as far as I can. Yep, that’s what she said. She then gropes my legs, and kneads my butt so firmly that I have to move my feet to keep my balance.

    • progress says:

      National ID Cards with an Individual Security Profile

      Looks like that is the result of the end game if it is successful.
      Make life miserable by Trashing of our dignity, Bill of Rights, followed by this ID card and then Welcome 1984.

      We need to read Pres. Thomas Jefferson, Paine, Pres. Madison a little bit more. Its just a scene change now but the underlying motives of Greed, Power over others is always there as a Human weakness which those three great people tried to address with checks and balances in our constitution and bill of rights.

    • Kassandra says:

      Oh, now they have a woman who lost a loved one in 911 to berate US for resisting losing our right to unreasonable search and seizure

      • tammanytiger says:

        Oh, now they have a woman who lost a loved one in 911 to berate US for resisting losing our right to unreasonable search and seizure

        I’ll bet it was Debra Burlingame, who’s described as a “former lawyer” in her frequent op-ed pieces in the Wall Street Journal. Her schtick has long since become predictable: no price is too high to pay for national security.

  2. IntelVet says:

    What is insane is that one can, in a relatively non-invasive manner, test for individual molecules. We did it in a summer school research laboratory some 30 years ago. Damn, that long ago.

  3. rosalind says:

    but also if they set off either the RapeAScan machine or a conventional metal detector.

    this. women who need a bra with a certain amount of support have a much higher chance of setting off the metal detector and getting the grope. the airports i use so far don’t have the scanners. i wore my “wrong” bra the flight before last, set off the detector, got sent off to the “arms up legs wide” area”, and got the enhanced pat-down without being apprised that the procedure had been changed.

    my annoyed tolerance slowly shifted to confusion, then rage, then humiliation as the agent kept touching my breasts over and over and over. the same area over and over and over.

    the statistic i’d like to see is how many more women than men get pulled aside due to their bras alone. (and the first person who says “just don’t wear your bra” is gonna get punched. i still believe in this quaint notion of dignity and privacy).

  4. jdmckay0 says:

    (…) gate rape

    t’hee hee… :)

    (Is that your word smything?)

    * Grope’a dope?
    * Who’s your mama?
    * Mikey… he likes it!!!
    * OMFG… TBTF!

    Oh well, nice diversionary diversion from the more substantial raping of America, or maybe this is an intended metaphor? “All your junk is ours!”

    Who knows, maybe our spooks can run all this through the computer and come up w/profiling to better protect us.

    Q: does this imaging provide metric overlay for “junk calibration” recording? Could be useful for all kinds of marketing usage now that I think about it.

    “A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are
    the others crazy?”

    Albert Einstein

  5. cbl says:

    looks like the apologists are going to go with the oligatory “fear mongering by Fox News” play

    not working quite as well as it has in the past – they’re getting hammered over at HuffPo

  6. harpie says:

    Rush Holt wrote a letter.

    From [rocket scientist] Rep. Rush Holt [D-NJ] to on 11/19/10:

    Dear Administrator Pistole,

    When Americans witness three year-old children being aggressively patted down by TSA screeners-as was the case this month-our airline security screening system is broken.

    As a scientist and the chairman of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, I appreciate the challenges we face in trying to prevent terrorist from boarding American airliners. That same background also gives me an understanding of why TSA’s current obsession with fielding body imaging technology is misguided, counterproductive, and potentially dangerous. […]

    The Congressional Biomedical Caucus hosted a presentation of the new technology by TSA in March 2010.

    [from Holt’s recent letter] The devices as currently in use and proposed for wider deployment this year currently deliver to the scalp “20 times the average dose that is typically quoted by TSA and throughout the industry.”

    Potential health risk: basal cell carcinoma…

    And then,

    [Holt] It remains unclear whether the AIT would have been able to detect the weapon Mr. Abdulmutallab used in his attempted attack based on the preliminary TSA information we have received.” […]

    Here’s the report [pdf] from the GAO which Holt refers to [pdf]:

    AVIATION SECURITY; TSA Is Increasing Procurement and Deployment of the Advanced Imaging Technology, but Challenges to This Effort and Other Areas of Aviation Security Remain; Steve Lord, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues; 3/17/10

    Holt also mentions that earlier this year the US Marshalls Service was inappropriately storing scanned body images at a US court house.

    [Holt] A headlong rush to embrace fallible technology will only give the public the illusion of increased security at the expense of their privacy and dignity, with no assurance that the use of these machines will actually deter or detect terrorists before they act. […]

    Did he say dignity?


    TSA apparently didn’t consider that people might have some.

    TSA on defense; Pistole: Fliers’ ‘dignity’ was overlooked; Politico; 11/23/10; 7:37AM

  7. SusanD says:

    I wonder if you told the person giving you the “enhanced pat-down” that you were gonna touch them the same way and places they touched you……would you get arrested?

  8. wagthedog says:

    They lost the argument. It is like Bush saying, I only waterboarded a few people or we only raided 1 million US citizen homes.

  9. wagthedog says:

    It’s okay, I only beat my wife and children once a month, whether they deserve it or not.

    When did groping even one child become okay, Obama?

    • kindGSL says:

      Maybe because they are strangers and wearing a badge and uniform, that makes it OK . . .

      I have to start seriously wondering how these people were raised. I think this is bizarre, like unbelievable that people are such cows. It honestly makes NO sense to me.

  10. kindGSL says:

    Are they changing gloves with each new person, or risking spreading a whole host of various diseases and parasites?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  11. onitgoes says:

    Nifty Propoganda Reporting this morning had a segment on where they *claimed* – with absolutley no attribution of course – that “two thirds of Americans are absolutely fine” with the RapeScanCancer machines and/or “love pats.” And then went on to sneeringly jeer at us pussies who protest to the furthering of all of our freedumbs…

    What was Jabba the Ailes just babbling about? That NPR was so “insanely liberal” that it was “Nazi”??? Needless to say, a statement like that makes no sense except to RushGlenn dittoheads.

  12. Knoxville says:

    You know how I mocked the White House for dismissing the problem of gate rape by saying only 170,000 passengers had had their genitalia groped by a stranger working for the government?

    Why should the WH care about gate rape? While they hear us griping about the groping, they’re also seeing Faux News and many on the right spend time talking about this rather than talking about how wrong Obama is on just about everything and about the shitty job he’s doing on the economy and government spending. And investors today are more focused on Korea than on the slow growth of the economy.

    These issues have been Thanksgiving gifts for the WH.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Of course, none of those gropees works in the White House or is a high government or corporate official. Like the rule of law, groping that does little to enhance security – but a great deal to normalize the police state – is only for the little people.

  14. grandmashelia1 says:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    It’s a bit vague… /s

    Ask the TSA mauler to show you his warrant.

  15. jedimsnbcko19 says:

    Base on how the USA currently works

    some phony organizations funded by RAPISCAN will tell americans how getting grope by strangers is healthy and makes you a better person

    and CNN, Fox Phony News, ABC, CBS, NBC, will support everyword they say!

    some call this war on terror, when all it is old fashion evil capitalism

    Polls will soon say, American love being GROPE! (my bad they already have)

    what a country! WOW!!!

    • perris says:

      you are correct but the faux news stations will not do that until a plan for upper class white people is in place so they could go to another line where there is neither a cancer ray or state mandated rape

  16. perris says:

    the main problem here is the fact that they changed their pat down procedure specifically for punitive purposes so people would be reluctant to opt out of the cancer ray

    all of a sudden they can turn palms up and reach under your undergarments

    this is pure extorsion

  17. JohnLopresti says:

    On this topic, I defer to Saturday Night Live, MD, and their cadre of board certified medical assistants and gendarmes. Calling, Tina Fey.

  18. mocha says:

    If 720,000 people get an “enhanced” grope today or tomorrow, and the “grope” is as repugnant as I understand, we’re going to see the complaint rate go wayyyy up. Older women, families with children. The expression of fear and confusion on some people’s faces from inside the porno scan in pictures taken at airports in the last week is enough to make me cry. They originally justified the porno scanners as secondary screening and random screening. Now they are quickly moving to making it the scanning method for everyone and designed the grope to teach people a lesson who declined the pornoscan. They underestimated when Americans would say “enough”.

  19. mocha says:

    I wonder if it’s going to be the TSA employees who finally say “enough, I’m not touching another labia”

  20. jdmckay0 says:

    Seems this has turned into a group-grope-discussion.

    “The audacity of grope” (wandering, unfocused mind today, sorry)… “grope you can believe in!”

  21. juliania says:

    I am envisioning the return trip with folks stuffed with turkey and trimmings and Grandma’s pecan pie…could get messy.

  22. Arbusto says:

    Maybe TSA could make it more fun to be felt up. How about if the gropers-to-be lined up as whores at the Bunny Ranch and the accostee-to-be walks the line to pick out her/his favorite, then saunter off together, in order to know each other better before the deed. The better healed, first class passengers, might even afford a Ménage à trois.

  23. runfastandwin says:

    All this attention to this issue is such a waste of time and effort. No one has to fly, you don’t like the TSA, drive.

    • Arbusto says:

      If you don’t see this as another step towards a more authoritarian government and trampling of more civil liberties, then you just don’t get it. Osama bin Laden has done more than make fearful rabbits of our citizenry and leaders(?), he’s caused and government over reaction and failure to follow the rule of law and Constitution.

  24. lysias says:

    Napolitano now talking about extending the scanning to trains, boats, and “mass transit” (which presumably includes subway trains and buses). Next step for body scanners could be trains, boats, metro :

    The next step in tightened security could be on U.S. public transportation, trains and boats.

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says terrorists will continue to look for U.S. vulnerabilities, making tighter security standards necessary.

    “[Terrorists] are going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through,” Napolitano said in an interview that aired Monday night on “Charlie Rose.”

    “I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime. So, what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”

    Where is this insanity going to end?

  25. lysias says:

    Top government officials are exempted: Click here to find out more!
    TSA: Some Gov’t Officials to Skip Airport Security

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-sanctioned security details.

    New heightened security procedures by the Transportation Security Administration, which require either a scan by a full-body detector or an intimate personal pat-down, have spurred passenger outrage in the lead-up to the Thanksgiving holiday airport crush.

    The senior government officials can opt out of such measures if they fly accompanied by government security guards approved by the TSA. The agency would not explain why it makes these exceptions, but many of the exempted government officials have gone through several levels of security clearances, including FBI background checks.

  26. klynn says:

    The words which have been bothering me were those of the TSA exclaiming that, “… travel was a privilege, not a right.”

    Sorry buckos, travel IS a right.

    • bmaz says:

      You will lose on that argument every time legally. There are a plethora of legal cases in every jurisdiction stating that while travel is a right, a designated mode like by automobile or airplane is indeed a privilege.

      • lysias says:

        I believe all those cases (saying that using a particular mode of transportation is a mere privilege) have dealt with single modes of transportation. If several modes of transportation are limited (like if they extend the scanners to trains, buses, and boats, as Napolitano was suggesting today,) and if the sole remaining means of transportation (car, bicycle, walking) are too time-consuming and impossible for the disabled, mightn’t that amount to a substantial denial of a fundamental right?

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, you would certainly think that would start to be problematic; to be honest I am not sure how it might play out, I just do not know this area of law well enough. I am pretty sure there is not a clear cut answer to that yet because, as you surmise, in the past there have bee sufficient “alternatives”.

      • fatster says:

        bmaz, that is fascinating. I just stumbled across an article which says “In Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116 (1958) at 125-126, Justice William Douglas, writing for the majority opinion (5-4), stated:

        ‘The right to travel is a part of the ‘liberty’ of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment.'” LINK.

        So, I do have the right to travel, but not the right to travel by a specific mode. And there is no way to turn the argument around, to say that my inability to travel by a specific mode precludes my being able to exercise my right to travel? (For instance, “I can’t travel by airplane because procedures mandated and practiced by the government at the airports would lead to severe distress and psychological harm, while I need to travel a great distance in a very short time to attend to a family member suddenly stricken by a major health crisis and only an airplane can get me there in that short time.”)

  27. missquery says:

    re: Gloves.

    As far as I call tell. They do NOT change them during a shift…..by that I mean a work period, not a groping effort.

    This is just so absolutely disgusting – and medically outrageous. Untrained people wearing increasingly dirty gloves are probing people crotches – ok genitalia – hundreds of times per day. If a doctor or nurse did this he/she would loose their license. Pornography at taxpayer expense.

  28. fatster says:

    Arkansas man sues over new TSA full-body scans

    ” . . . detrimental to his ’emotional, psychological and mental well-being.'”