“Those that would give up their liberty for security deserve neither and lose both.”
- Benjamin Franklin
To be quite honest, I almost didn't post this video and blog because I kept asking myself, "Am I just being a baby?" I’m also not one to stir up controversy. In fact, I do my best to live a very positive and healthy life. However, in the situation I’m about to describe, I felt truly violated and believe I should let my voice be heard. Ultimately, I hope others will do the same. Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” So, that’s what I’m doing by sharing this experience:
On my overnight, 11-hour flight back to Los Angeles last week after hosting the red carpet premiere for “Fast Five” in Rio De Janeiro, I connected in Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) where I had the misfortune of being selected to go through one of those full body scanners that emits radiation. Now, if you don’t fly very often, you might not worry about it. But I’m a frequent flyer and don’t wish to be irradiated more than I already am on flights (we get a pretty large dose of radiation while flying due to our proximity to the sun; the longer your flight, the more your radiation exposure) and in life in general (we’re exposed to radiation all day every day; it’s called “background radiation”). So I will always “opt out” of going through these body scanners, especially since the long-term effects of radiation are quite well documented: it mutates our cells, often in irreversible ways, and causes cancer. I’m all set with that!
Anyway, after “opting out,” I proceeded to follow a very nice older female TSA employee to the “pat down” area. It was an inconvenience, but I thought, “No biggie. I just went through this at LAX for the first time and it wasn’t too bad, so let’s just get it over with.”
Well, this pat down was completely different. It was MUCH MORE invasive than my first one at LAX, just a week before. To say that I felt invaded is an understatement. What bothered me most was when she ran the back of her hands down my behind, felt around my breasts, and even came in contact with my vagina! Honestly, I was in shock, especially since the woman at LAX never actually touched me there. The TSA employee at DFW touched my private area 4 times, going up both legs from behind and from the front, each time touching me there. Was I at my gynecologist’s office? No! This was crazy!
I felt completely helpless and violated during the entire process (in fact, I still do), so I became extremely upset. If I wanted to get back to Los Angeles, I had no choice but to be violated, whether by radiation or a stranger. I just kept thinking, “What have I done to deserve this treatment as an upstanding, law-abiding American citizen?” Am I a threat to US security? I was Miss USA, for Pete’s sake!
Besides, is this procedure really protecting us? I remember hearing about an Al Qaeda terrorist successfully evading security detection by placing a bomb in his rectum. All in an attempt to assassinate Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef. So what if that happened in the US? Would we then be subjected to random rectal exams in addition to x-rays and being groped by strangers? How far is this going to go? More specifically, how far will WE let this go? As they say, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I think it’s time to stand up for our personal liberty.
As a frequent flyer, I knew getting a “pat down” was inevitable, but I never expected it to make me so upset. When it was over, I grabbed my things, walked over to my husband who was waiting for me, and was completely overcome with emotion.
I have never felt more violated in my life than I did that morning at DFW, and I’ve heard of others feeling the same way after these “pat downs.” Just a couple weeks ago, a video of a six-year-old girl being patted down by TSA made headlines. Talk about unjust and unacceptable. So I decided to speak to a TSA supervisor about how I felt, and make a video about what happened to post on my blog.
This “pat down” is a total violation of our rights (we shouldn’t be searched this way without probable cause or a search warrant), therefore I will be filing a complaint via phone, online and also in writing with the TSA to complain each and every time for as long as the TSA is violating my rights. I’m 100% against it, and if you care about your freedom, you should be too. This is precisely the kind of unjust search and seizure our Constitution was created to protect us from.
In my conversation with the TSA supervisor, I expressed to her how physically violated I felt. She was kind and understanding, but was nonetheless in charge of a department that was violating the rights of countless Americans every day. At one point during our conversation, I told her, “the fact is, if someone wanted to harm us, they simply would.”
Guess what. She agreed! She even went so far as to say, “We’re not allowed to touch children like we do adults. If someone really wanted to hide something, they could use a child. I know. There’re definitely loop holes with this.” So apparently, not even TSA employees believe this unconstitutional invasion of privacy works!
Here’s the video I made right after going through the invasive, unjust, unconstitutional and ineffective “pat down.” Honestly, I don’t like that I’m putting myself out there like this, but I wanted you to know what happened, what I was feeling, and that I hope you, too, will speak up if and when this happens to you. We shouldn’t be giving up our liberties as Americans because of our fears. The government can’t keep us safe. No matter how much they promise us they can, it’s a false promise.
And here’s the TSA compliment/complaint card that I filled out and mailed to the DFW TSA. I’ll be filling one out each time I get “patted down” at an airport. Hopefully tears won’t be involved every time:
Like I say in the video, we as individuals have to speak up and protect our liberty. If you feel like your Constitutional rights have been violated by the TSA, please follow my lead and contact your Congressional representatives. Let them know that if they want your vote they must stand up for our rights.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this so feel free to post a comment below.
Lots of love,
First of all, thank you all for your tremendous support and kind words on what I (and countless others, including children and elderly) went through. My work requires me to travel often, and I don't want to be degraded and driven to tears (or go through those dangerous body scanners) everytime I fly. If I could, I would boycott airline travel altogether, but that would mean that I, and MANY others, wouldn't work.
I just started a petition on Twitter demanding the TSA stop these invasive "enhanced pat downs". Please help me spread the word and retweet!
Also, please sign the following petition to Congress. I will be personally handing it to them in hopes of finding a better way to screen passengers that is more effective, less invasive, and doesn't violate our rights: www.susiecastillo.net.
Finally, please be intelligent and do your research before commenting on this subject. I welcome opposing opinions to mine, but only if you are respectful to everyone else. Comments that are slanderous, disrespectful, contain inapropriate language, are rude (you get the point) will be deleted. Be constructive, polite and smart adults when you post no matter where your feelings lie or don't bother commenting.
Thanks and blessings to you all,