My name is Elizabeth. I live in New York City, I pay taxes, I volunteer, I have rescue dogs and a wonderful fiancé. What I am not, is a terrorist. On July 17, 2011, while traveling through Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, I was the victim of government sanctioned sexual assault, otherwise known as “Molested by the TSA.” Because I declined to go through a machine that captures and SAVES very private imaging of my entire body, along with emitting a degree of radiation that has not been studied enough to be able to truly be labeled safe, I was told I would be subject to a “pat down.”
What happened next was unbelievable. I was pulled to the side and a female TSA agent began to pat me down. After she massaged my back and my arms, she slid her hand in between my buttocks, then down through my legs. I thought that would be the end of the violation, but then, she asked me to spread my legs open, even further, and proceeded to reach all the way up into my inner thigh, then she touched my vagina. FOUR TIMES. Two on each thigh from the back, and then two on each thigh from the front.
My first reaction was to cry, while her hands were sliding all over my body, in front of other passengers, but I didn’t, instead, I engaged her. As her fingers were drawing circles around my breasts, I looked into her eyes and asked her if she felt that this was a violation of my civil liberties, or if she felt, as a human being doing this to another human being, that this was wrong. She did not respond, so I continued, telling her I understood she was simply doing her job and that I knew it was not her choice. She finished touching me and I continued speaking with her, and I asked her, “ Do you think this is right?” This woman looked into my eyes and she said, “No, I don’t, but what can I do? It’s not a good time to be out of a job.” She was kind and embarrassed and clearly caught between a rock and a hard place. But it made me feel better to know that even the TSA has a problem with the level of molestation that the US Government is sanctioning on its own citizens.
I didn’t stop feeling like someone’s hands were in my panties until a few hours later. I am so angry that this is going on. I’m angry because our government failed to act when Bin Laden bombed the African Embassy’s in 1998, when this entire mess started and when they had an opportunity to act. I was an intern at the Defense Intelligence Agency, working in the Pentagon at that time. There was an air of blasé about the entire thing that as a 21-year-old, I didn’t understand, but now, I most certainly do. My hope is that this page creates change. CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN, right?
What’s next? Rectal searches? Because if someone wants to put a bomb somewhere, isn’t that the new obvious choice? I decided to give myself a voice, and others who have experienced this as well. This is my story, but I know it may also be yours, or your children’s! Please SOUND OFF in the Share Your Story section and get someone to listen. This is not right.