In clear contradiction of its own policy, the Transportation Security Administration continues to forbid travelers from using cameras at checkpoints.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Congresswoman published a scathing report on how the agency responsible for screening terrorists from boarding planes has proven unable to screen criminals from its own ranks.
It’s no wonder why TSA officials at Orlando International Airport have gone as far as to post a sign near the checkpoint forbidding photography and videography.
And why TSA officials at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport recently ordered a traveler to stop recording after an alarm went off indicating a security breach.
After all, we just never know which TSA screener has been profiled on America’s Most Wanted.
PINAC reader Paul Sanchez said he was confronted by a TSA screener in St. Louis last week who told him he was not allowed to record because he was within a “sterile” area.
He continued recording and was eventually confronted by Detective Sergeant Lesley F. Williams of the St. Louis Airport Police Department who threatened to arrest him for interference.
The no photography sign at Orlando International Airport was snapped by PINAC reader Daniel Bentley.
The “Private Screening Advisory” states the following:
For security reasons, some screening procedures conducted in this area cannot be videotaped or photographed. Please cease any recording or photography if directed by a TSA officer.
You have the option to have somebody accompany you during private screening.
However, TSA states the following on its website regarding the recording of checkpoints:
TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down. We do ask you to not film or take pictures of the monitors. While the TSA does not prohibit photographs at screening locations, local laws, state statutes, or local ordinances might.
While the TSA will no doubt defend itself by stating that the sign clearly says “some screening procedures” cannot be recorded, mainly the monitors, the actual policy states that they are merely requesting travelers not to record the monitors.
And let’s face it, it is not the monitors we want to record but how the TSA screeners conduct themselves while groping passengers and rummaging through our luggage.
Just last month, it was discovered that a Catholic priest who was forced out of the church over sex abuse allegations is now working as a TSA supervisor in Philadelphia.
Also last month, U.S. Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) published a scolding report criticizing the TSA for its lax hiring practices.
The report, titled “‘Not on my watch’: 50 Failures of TSA’s Transportation Security Officers” and published May 30, 2012, states the following:
Since its creation, the TSA has greatly expanded its authority and reach to include every transportation sector within the United States. While in the last decade TSA has employed many dedicated public servants who truly have a deep desire to serve our country, they have also hired an alarming number of individuals who in many cases would never have passed a simple background check. The individuals who are featured in this report are not only abusing their public positions but they are using their jobs to commit federal crimes against the very public they are sworn to protect.
This problem has only exacerbated itself since 2005 when TSA administratively reclassified airport security screeners as Transportation Security Officers. To make matters worse, TSA upgraded TSOs uniforms to reflect those of federal law enforcement officers, complete with metal officer badges. Despite their new title of officer, TSOs receive zero federal law enforcement training and as you will see in this report, many TSOs have displayed little respect for the titles they hold and uniforms they wear.
The 59-page report lists 50 TSA workers who ended up getting arrested for child molestation, sexual assault, drug trafficking and at least one case of murder.
Earlier today, it was reported that 43 TSA workers in Fort Meyers were disciplined for lax security.
Less than two months ago, four TSA screeners were arrested in Los Angeles International Airport for accepting bribes in exchange for allowing drugs to be smuggled through the screening area.
Although the TSA has always allowed the recording at checkpoints, that message never seems to resonate with the actual screeners who repeatedly lie to travelers about their right to record.
Last year, the TSA hinted that they would start officially banning recording at checkpoints after a series of humiliating videos exposed screeners groping children but the National Press Photographers Association stepped in and the TSA announced it was all a misunderstanding.
In the St. Louis incident mentioned above, Sanchez stopped recording after the cop threatened him with arrest. This is how he explained it in an email to Photography is Not a Crime:
I stopped recording and about 30 minutes later the terminal was re-opened. I pulled up the TSA blog about photography/videotaping at checkpoints on my iPad and asked a supervisor screener what the policy is and why one her underlings said photography is not allowed. This did not get very far and the federal security director William Switzer then got involved. He confirmed to me that photography/videotaping is allowed and the screener was in error. At this point she was out of view and I could not point out the screener to director Switzer nor recall her name (I did not see her SIDA credentials). I exchanged cards with director Switzer.
Just as I was going to leave the terminal thru the exit lo & behold the screener did show up in the doorway of the private screening room. Not wanting to miss the opportunity for director Switzer I photographed her & officer Smith of STL PD with my Canon ELPH 300. Officer Smith came up to me immediately and said do not take photos of the checkpoint. 100% contrary to TSA’s published rules but 100% inline with Detective Sergeant Williams’ opinion as well.
He then went back to the original screening area to get the name of the screener who told him it was a “sterile” area and was refused her name.
Please send stories, tips and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I’m documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested. I did not pay for this transplant, which is why I’m promoting the doctor through the hair transplant blog.