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Last week I watched my husband of 44 years be totally humiliated and abused by the new TSA screening process.  At 65 years old, 6'2" tall and 265 pounds you would have thought that nothing could phase him.  Think again - If the new TSA "pat down" procedures can rattle a man like my husband, what will these "pat downs" do to women like us?  (by Liz)

Here is Charley’s story, as told by him:

My wife and I had a wonderful trip to the Los Angeles area last week.  We enjoyed the sun and fun – even rented a convertible.   The ocean off Malibu Beach and Santa Monica was grand and glorious – resplendent in sunshine.  

We got married on Santa Monica Boulevard 44 years ago and it was fun for this Missouri boy and his California bride to return to the place that started us on our amazing journey of love and marriage more than four decades ago.

We ate great seafood and fresh vegetables during our trip, interviewed terrific couples for our next book about successful marriage, videotaped an upcoming television show about our newest book, and, all and all, had a grand California time.  It was a wonderful trip, but the journey home was a nightmare.

Here's what happened.  When we got to LAX our trip definitely turned south.

Here I am, a 65-year-old man with gray hair, wearing a pair of Chino pants and a blue blazer.  My wife of 44 years was traveling with me.  I am not a very dangerous looking guy and my track record in the legal system is squeaky clean.  OK, I got a speeding ticket back in the 90's!  But the truth is, I have a great record as a human being overall.  My 42 years as an educator qualifies me I think as one of the good guys.

Frankly, when I saw the "full body scanner" in front of me as we were beginning the  screening process at LAX, I was kind of looking forward to trying out this new technology.  My optimism didn't last very long.

I went through the body scanner only to be pulled aside and told that the scanner had detected something "in my right groin area."  I said to the TSA agent something like, "Huh?"  I had no shoes, no belt, no jewelry, no nothing except my socks, my Chino's, my underwear, and my shirt.  And trust me on this, I am not a terrorist – I have never committed a crime and I only have that speeding ticket I mentioned earlier.

What was about to happen to me was something I never expected.  And I must say, it was traumatizing, uncomfortable, embarrassing, and downright humiliating.

I was pulled into a room after waiting for several minutes in the "holding area."  Two TSA agents took me into this side room.  The one agent told me he was going to search me.  He committed to using only the "back of his hands" during this invasive search.  

What happened during the next several minutes clearly and without question violated my civil liberties.  What happened to me violated my rights as a citizen of this country, the United States of America.

During the invasive process I was going through, the TSA agent touched my genitals, patted down my legs and groin area, and embarrassed me by rubbing my inner legs and buttocks.

I will ask this simple question of those of you who are reading this – how does a 65 year old man, with gray hair, his bride of 44 years by his side, and one who has a very clean record of service to education for 42 years, get treated like a common criminal – or worst yet, a terrorist – when all I was doing was getting on an American airplane as a frequent flyer with a Gold Card?  What has happened to my country?

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Missouri in the 1960's, my English teacher required me to read "1984" by George Orwell.  I dutifully read the book.  And the truth is, I thought it was funny.  I never imagined that America would come to the vision of George Orwell.  Well, think again.

I am very worried about my country.  I never imagined that I would be humiliated by my own government.  And all in the name of security for Americans.  Our government has, in my humble estimation, crossed over the line.  

Where is the ACLU?  Where are those Americans that profess to protect our civil liberties?   My experience in LA was a watershed moment in my life.  I have always loved my country and believed in all the liberties outlined in our Constitution.   But my government has let me down.

When our government gropes, fondles, and touches our human body in ways that our constitution never imagined, it is time to question what has gone wrong.

Where have our civil liberties gone?  

By Dr. Charles D. and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cheekymonkey wrote Nov 19, 2010
    • First, I am very sorry your wonderful trip and memories were tainted. Second I cant agree with u more. Its worse when you fly out of country. I was patted and I use that term losely while flying with then my eleven yr old daughter so she was there. With the pat down I recieved “he” should have taken me to dinner, bought me a ring and maybe married me! While my daughter watched. Where was a female to do this? And why up my crotch area 4 times and wont even discuss the chest. I fly from la to england once a yr or I did my daughter is older now and I havent been on a plane regularly since. Travel use to be a joy of my family. We went to England last year and I was so stressed that I had a panic attack just the thought of the pat down..
      Im all for keeping us safe but why are the honest good americans losing our american rights while the other side gets to keep thiers here.
      Its going to get worse its hard to stop a speeding train roaring downhill
      We have a choice as people as americans to make unfortunatly noone is listening

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Nov 19, 2010
    • I hate to say this but this is now part of normal life when you fly - what is strange I have been searched and made to remove shoes and socks and almost down to my underwear going on the Eurostar towards France but return trip never even look at my passport .......the reason for the search was they were pulling all women over wearing socks - since was that a crime maybe against fashion but not  

      There has to be a happy medium and I think they should pay more attention to other areas not all these invasive searches as I would estimate about 90% of travellers are just that and the 10% are causing mayhem for the rest.  

      This was all over the UK news this week about a small child in the US being searched
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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cheekymonkey wrote Nov 19, 2010
    • You know something ur right about not offering a solution even though Im not sure what it should be. I understand the need for all, profiling,body scans, even pat downs but each has to have a set of strict rules in order for those doing each of these do them with keeping dignity to every person. I think there is away to keep our dignity, our modesty, and our safety in place.
      Its just so easy to claim for national security and easy for abuse of power to happen. Which can leave us feeling powerless.
      I think the best might be profiling on actions which should lead to a full body scan or pat down but both of the latter should be done in as much privacy as possible and with limitations on how far you go with each. On pat downs it should be done by same gender and maybe flat palms not gropping.
      Im all for accepting the stipulations of flying if I want to fly then you except the rules but what is hard is the loss of my rights “not to be gropped or violated in my personal areas by a man I didnt know” it could have been less personal. What if he wanted to do that to my then eleven yr old daughter....the law calls that molsesting.
      It could have and should have been done differently. But you lose your rights because you cant complain or refuse because its in the name of national security. I feel that we all must do the boundries and stipulations they require and realize that it is for everyones safety but im also concerned about the lack of checks and balances

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Nov 19, 2010
    • What a horrible way to end a fantabulous trip!

      It is sad that we as a country feel like we have to resort to this. But as Annie said “somethings got to give” and Vicki is right too about it “being part of our normal life“.

      So sad that we are here!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Nov 27, 2010
    • That is awful! This is what I say....if you have to go through something like this or are pulled aside...then I say...have someone go with you (if you are not traveling alone) and be a witness.  I would even say...let that witness video tape it off your phone...etc...if you have all that.  And if THEY ARE BEING WATCHED...maybe...those pat downs won’t be quite as invasive.  Not saying this is the answer...I really do not know what the answer is...but I’m with Annie on this....I don’t care what people say about still needs to be done!  

      And if you say you never profile anyone throughout your‘re lying.  WE profile people every single day.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cheekymonkey wrote Nov 27, 2010
    • Mary, thank you for saying that! And your right we all do it we feel better around certain people on how they look everyone of us do it.
      I love the idea a certain citizens did when flying just to prove a point she went in a bikini and him in underwear.
      Whats next?

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