“I was molested!” An airport security check worthy of Penthouse Forum

By Dan Delmar on August 6, 2009

I was molested. Seeing these three words in print is a stark reminder of my ordeal, from which I may never fully recover. He caressed my inner thigh, cupped my buttocks in his large, burly hands and gently ran his fingers through my hair. This trauma didn’t occur during my childhood; it happened just last week.

I had managed to string together five days in late July to vacation in New York City and was making my way through a security checkpoint at Trudeau International Airport when it happened. A U.S. Homeland Security agent pulled me aside and informed me that I had been selected for a “random” search. I was separated from other passengers and, with apologies to actual victims of sexual assault, was fondled by the guard who evidently had mistaken me for a terrorist – or for his lady friend.

The regular search given to all passengers was not sufficient. On top of being checked for explosives with a handheld metal detector along with everyone else, the guard proceeded to literally give me a rub-down (with my clothes on, thankfully), from head-to-toe. This man, who likely has no law enforcement experience outside of an airport, felt it necessary to study every contour of my body in order to secure his homeland. It was so thorough and invasive that he probably could have sculpted my likeness out of clay from memory. He didn’t seem to understand my suggestion that he should have at least bought me dinner beforehand.

Adding to the Homeland Security circus is the fact that I, along with all U.S.-bound passengers, are still forced to remove shoes before boarding a plane. This absurd “security measure” is in response to Richard Reid’s attempted shoe-bombing of a Miami-bound American Airlines flight out of Paris – eight years ago. I cringe to think what would happen if the evil plans of the Tampon Bomber ever come to fruition.

American Homeland Security agents arbitrarily search innocent civilians in airports worldwide every minute of every day, without rhyme or reason and, more importantly, without probable cause. There was no justification for searching me so thoroughly; all of my travel documents were in order, I had not been acting suspiciously, nor had any dangerous materials been detected in my luggage or on my person during the first search. 

Although I make light of the “molestation” I suffered at the hands of the guard, the comparison is not completely inaccurate. He went overboard. It was uncomfortable and humiliating. My personal space was not only invaded, but rendered nonexistent. He did, in fact, feel up my backside and, toward the end of the search, said, “I will now search your hair.” I couldn’t make this stuff up.

In retrospect, the most troubling part of the ordeal is that I let it happen to begin with. I was anxious to start my vacation and didn’t want to start a fuss that would result in me missing the flight. The vast majority of air travelers let it happen, not conscious of the fact that their personal liberties have been completely disregarded. We’re satisfied with the standard explanation that we all have to make sacrifices in order to prevent terrorism. Proper investigative techniques, logic be damned; the skinny Jew with no carry-on luggage could actually be a Bin Laden disciple with a bomb strapped to his…curly brown locks? 

If the search was indeed “random,” as the guard suggested, then the likelihood of catching a terrorist is slim to none. Since they’re subverting civil liberties anyway, why not ignore the 80-year-old grandmothers and others like myself who don’t fit the profile and target those who do. A young 20-something man who grew up in Pakistan and a young 20-something man who grew up in Sainte-Adèle may both be citizens and deserve to be treated as such, but let’s face it, one is slightly more likely to commit an act of terrorism than the other.

All the measures put in place by the U.S. government in airports worldwide aren’t so much about security as they are about making people feel safe; there’s an important distinction. A properly-trained law enforcement agent may have the ability to recognize a threat in a crowd of civilians. A hastily-trained welfare recipient-

turned-Homeland Security guard given a job during a post-9/11 hiring blitz does just what his government tells him to do. Governments have been using 9/11 as an excuse to erode civil liberties since 9/12, conning voters into thinking that the politician who best protects them from the evildoers is the best fit to lead a nation. 

 Air travel has been and continues to be, statistically, the safest form of travel. The exaggerated security measures I went through are only good for calming the masses into submission. That’s probably the reason why the Homeland Security agent felt me up in front of roughly 100 other passengers and not more discretely, in a back room. I can’t figure out why I was chosen. All I know is the next time it happens, I’m going to say ‘no.’


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