A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled that TSA screeners are immune from prosecution for sexual assault, false arrest, and other abuses.
In a 2-1 vote, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners are shielded by government sovereign immunity from liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act because they do not function as “investigative or law enforcement officers.”
The majority said it was “sympathetic” to concerns that its decision would leave fliers with “very limited legal redress” for alleged mistreatment by aggressive or overzealous screeners, which add to the ordinary stresses of air travel.
“For most people, TSA screenings are an unavoidable feature of flying,” but it is “squarely in the realm” of Congress to expand liability for abuses, Circuit Judge Cheryl Ann Krause wrote.
This means that incidents like this are legal.
She required me to assist her in my sexual assault. I had to lift my shirt to give her clear access to my waistband, into which she thrust her blue-latex-gloved fingers and ran them all around the front and back of it. She made me hold my pants in place from the top as she crouched down and firmly ran her hands from the top of my legs to the bottom, both front, back and sides. She firmly pushed and rubbed her hands between my legs, the entire area – THE ENTIRE AREA – from the front and back.
She finally directed me to hold out my hands, palms up, as she swabbed them with damp squares of white tissue, which she inserted into a machine that I assume “sniffed” for explosive residue. When it gave my hands the all-clear, she indicated that I was free to go.
It’s not sexual assault when the government does it.
The court ruled on an unrelated case that included an allegation of false arrest:
According to court papers, Pellegrino had been randomly selected for additional screening at the Philadelphia airport before boarding a US Airways flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Pellegrino, then 57, objected to the invasiveness of the search, but conditions deteriorated and she was later jailed for about 18 hours, the papers show. Criminal charges were filed, and Pellegrino was acquitted at a March 2008 trial.
Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro dissented from Wednesday’s decision.
“By analogizing TSA searches to routine administrative inspections, my colleagues preclude victims of TSA abuses from obtaining any meaningful remedy for a variety of intentional tort claims,” he wrote.
Torts are civil wrongs that can result in damages.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney William McSwain in Philadelphia, whose office represented TSA officials, had no immediate comment.
So now, along with arrogance, bad manners, sneering insults, and a hostile attitude, the flying public is going to have to put up with deviant TSA agents getting off on groping their junk.
The TSA is supposed to keep us safe. In test after test, it’s clear that they cannot perform that basic function. Now, their incompetence has been compounded by leaving the traveling public wide open to continued abuses by agents and screeners without recourse for redress of any kind.
Isn’t it time to privatize airport security and get rid of the TSA?