The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has fired two screening agents over allegations they conspired to target certain passengers for extra screening to allow one of the agents to pat the passengers’ genitals.
The screenings were conducted with the express purpose of carrying out “pat-down searches” to grope men that one of the agents found attractive, according to the accusation.
TSA rules specify that if a pat-down is required: “The pat-down should be conducted by an officer of the same gender”.
The rule has a glaring flaw, however and the Denver Police sex crimes unit is aware of it. It acted after receiving an anonymous tipoff last year that a male screener had confessed that he “gropes males who come through the screening area”.
The groping and fondling happened at a security checkpoint at Denver International Airport, the Denver Post reported.
According to a police report quoted by KUSA-TV, the anonymous informant reported that when the screener in question would see an attractive man in line, he would alert another TSA screener “to indicate to the computer that the passenger was female” instead of male.
That triggered the scanner to register an anomaly and alert the screeners that a special investigation was required – an investigation “that requires a physical pat down of the passenger’s genital area”.
A TSA investigator told police investigators he personally observed the conspiracy in action.
The deliberate misidentification of a male passenger as female led to the computer declaring an anomaly, whereupon the first screener would “conduct a pat down of the passenger’s front groin and buttocks area with the palms of his hands, which is contradictory to TSA searching policy”.
The pat-down groper’s accomplice, who changed the machine to register female, was herself female, the report said. Both screeners involved in the pat-down conspiracy were sacked.
Denver Police presented the pat-down case to the Denver district attorney, who declined to file an unlawful sexual conduct charge because no victims had been identified.
Other charges may be brought.
The TSA issued a pat-down putdown. “These alleged acts are egregious and intolerable,” it fumed. “TSA has removed the two officers from the agency.”
Written by : Peter Needham