Thursday, 28 April 2011

Former Miss USA Traumatized by TSA in Dallas

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Susie Castillo, 2003 Miss USA and semifinalist for Miss Universe, was subjected to an invasive TSA pat-down in the Dallas airport on April 21 that left her in tears and emotionally upset.

The Tenth Amendment Center reported of this event that Miss Castillo “likened the incident to molestation.”

As a frequent traveler, she deliberately avoids the scanners in order to protect herself against excessive radiation exposure. This trip was no different, except that she was ordered to endure a full-body pat-down in lieu of going through the scanner. She had experienced a pat-down before in another airport which had not been too uncomfortable, so she felt certain she would be all right this time.

Not so.

Shortly after the incident, while still in the airport and in tears, the former titleholder made a short video (watch below) relating the experience, in which she stated,

I’m sure this woman was just doing her job. But she … I mean she actually … felt … touched my vagina. And so I think that’s why I’m crying; that’s what I’m so emotional, because I’m already so upset that they’re making me go — making me do this. Making me choose to either get molested, because that’s what I feel like and, or, or, go through this machine that’s completely unhealthy and dangerous. I don’t want to go through it, and here I am crying.

But it is evident that, even though she was traumatized, she kept her wits and acted bravely in immediately recording the event, and calling her viewers to stand up against these violations, as she intends to do.

She sought out the airport’s TSA supervisor in order to complain, and urged others who feel violated to make complaints, too. She has no idea if anything will change, but hopes it will. When considering how drug smugglers often bring drugs into the country, she questioned if body cavity searches would be next for all air travelers.

An airport employee who saw that Miss Castillo was upset tried to comfort her with the illogical statement that she’d rather be scanned or patted down than blown up, but it wasn’t comforting at all for her to hear.

Readers should be reminded that this was a sexual assault, and just because it was done in an airport by someone wearing a badge, doesn’t change the fact. Had it occurred in any other set of circumstances, it would be considered a crime. Miss Castillo was touched inappropriately, by a stranger.

It is also a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Coincidentally, in Texas, where the assault occurred, Texas State Representative David Simpson filed three bills this session in the Legislature that would ban the AIT scanners and make it a crime to perform invasive searches. One of them, H.B. 1937, reads in part:

… as part of a search performed to grant access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly: (A) searches another person without probable cause to believe the person committed an offense; and (B) touches the anus, sexual organ, or breasts of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person....

Simpson’s efforts enjoyed early success in the Legislature, yet it remains to be seen if Texans will hold their representatives accountable by asking them to support the measures. As of this writing, the bill has been referred to the Calendars Committee, and is waiting to be scheduled for debate on the Texas House floor.

Miss Castillo stated what many travelers are thinking about current TSA procedures: “… [I]t all doesn’t work anyway.”