A former agent for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago alleges that he and his fellow agents routinely laughed at naked X-ray images and engaged in rampant racial profiling.
Writing in Politico, Jason Edward Harrington claims that employees regularly behaved inappropriately in what is called the Image Operator, or I.O., room.
Because the TSA assured the public that nude images of passengers would not be stored on any recording devices, there were no cameras in the I.O. room, which was also locked from the inside. So, Harrington writes, “I.O. room duty quickly devolved into an unofficial break” in which employees “gawked” at “overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display.”
Moreover, “[a]ll the old, crass stereotypes about race and genitalia size thrived on our secure government radio channels.”
The lack of internal surveillance also allowed other kinds of bad behavior to thrive. “Officers who were dating often conspired to get assigned to the I.O. room at the same time,” Harrington claims, “where they analyzed the nude images with one eye apiece, at best.”
These behaviors were not a security concern, Harrington writes, because the “TSA was compelling toddlers, pregnant women, cancer survivors — everyone — to stand inside radiation-emitting machines that didn’t work.”
After the full-body scanners were installed, “[o]fficers discovered that the machines were good at detecting just about everything besides cleverly hidden explosives and guns.”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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