MAY 12, 2015
FOIA lawsuit produces 58 pages of TSA documents showing alleged sexual assaults on men and women at Denver International, Chicago O’Hare, and Los Angeles International airports
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it obtained 58 pages of records from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that detail alleged sexually-related assaults on passengers by TSA personnel at three major U.S. international airports. The documents describe incidents at Denver International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
The documents were released in response to a July 11, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:14-cv-01179)). The lawsuit was filed after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to respond to a March 5, 2014, FOIA request seeking:
Any and all passenger complaint forms (referred to as “yellow cards”), “To From” memoranda and Incident Reports filed in 2013 at the following US airports: Dulles International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Miami International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport …
The TSA documents show that passengers strenuously objected to the alleged sexually-related assaults, repeatedly saying they were “shocked,” “violated,” and “humiliated.” In one incident, a passenger reported that TSA officers, and “even the Supervisor … began to roar with laughter at the alleged sexual assault.” In other incidents, a breast cancer survivor reported she felt as if she had been raped. And an elderly passenger with a colostomy bag said she felt violated after being informed by a TSA agent that she had to “touch her bag so I could then touch her hands.”
The incident reports from the official TSA documents include:
At approximately 14:10 hours on the South Checkpoint, near lane 4 a passenger complained that he sustained an injury resulting from the aggressive actions of the the [sic] TSO [Transportation Security Officer] conducting a pat down search…The passenger stated during the pat-down search he was struck very hard in the groin area, which caused him pain to his left testical [sic].
She [TSA agent] then placed full palms squarely on my breasts and then moved around my breasts again. She then placed both palms against my breasts and I was shocked, humiliated, alarmed and assaulted and said ‘Stop! What are you doing? That’s not ok.’… I reported this to TSA Supervisor … She got the manager [redacted] and he said he would look at the video and TSA would send me a letter but it would not tell me the resolution and that I did not have a right to view the video… I will not be sexually assaulted at the airport. As a taxpayer, I pay for the TSA.”
The female TSO then proceeded to roughly feel of [sic] her breast including her nipples. The TSO didn’t go under her arms or along her sides. She indicated that she did not receive a proper pat down. The search was limited to her breast… Two other individuals came over to where the supervisor and gentleman were and they began laughing. The caller indicated that the incident was not the business of the other two officers and not a show for them. The caller indicated that even the Supervisor, along with the others, began to roar with laughter.
Caller indicates that her mother feels as though she was singled out because she was a breast cancer survivor and the caller feels as though this is extremely discriminatory. Caller indicates that the breast is an extremely intimate place that should not be rubbed in the manner that it was. Caller expressed that her mother feels extremely violated and the caller feels that being violated in this manner is on the same level as rape. Caller has indicated that her mother will never travel again because of the pat down that she received.
The person began to tell me how TSO [redacted] stuck his hands down his pants and grabbed the top of his penis and placed his fingers in his butt crack… The person was sure that he was violated and wanted to talk to a supervisor…. He said he is going to file a police report with Chicago Police Department and file a lawsuit against TSA and Officer [redacted] and walked away.”
Though not a sexually related complaint, included in the records is a document with the subject line “Likely Passenger Complaint – Discrimination because of Medical Condition:”
I led the way and the passenger followed, stating all the while that she was no terrorist; she was a woman of (68? – I do not remember precisely but it was an age in the 60s which pinpointed for me that she was not eligible for a modified pat down) and a U.S. citizen…. I then asked if there were any medical devices other than the bag – she interrupted me to say ‘It’s only poop. I can’t blow up a plane with poop! … I managed to clear her legs and feet and then [redacted]. [Redacted] I needed her to touch her bag so I could then test her hands.
Last month, CBS4 in Denver reported “that two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport have been fired after they were discovered manipulating passenger screening systems to allow a male TSA employee to fondle the genital areas of attractive male passengers.”
“That we had to fight and sue in court to get the TSA to disclose these shocking complaints shows the TSA is more interested in a cover-up than in addressing the problem that its employees violate innocent travelers too often, sexually or otherwise,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “With more than 56,000 employees and a $7.7 billion budget, the TSA can’t be trusted to its job of securing air travel. American simply trying to board a plane should not have to worry about being assaulted by federal employees working for TSA.”