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December 7, 2004

Posted 1:12 AM Eastern

According to ABC News 7's I Team servicing the Washington, DC metro area, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is conducting strip searches of passengers at Reagan National Airport and has now filed a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) to obtain all passenger complaints over screenings which have taken place at Reagan.

Their recent on site investigation revealed that some of these searches have taken place in stairwells at the airport which violates even the TSAs own guidelines. After complaints about these strip searches in stairwells which exposed female passengers private parts, the searches were then moved to the manager's officer where a camera - without the knowledge or consent of the passenger being stripped - recorded the violations.

Andrea McCarren, ABC 7 anchor who did the on site investigation, quotes TSA employees who wish to remain anonymous to protect their jobs, but are upset over this new policy now being implemented by the agency they work for:

TSA Employee: "I couldn't imagine my sister or my mother going through that process. I was so upset."

TSA Employee: "The look on their face would almost give you the sense that they felt like they were in a sense being raped. In a sense, being victimized and to a certain extent, they were. "

TSA Employee: "That really incensed me that someone felt that they could just put on some gloves and they could just violate someone to that degree."

TSA Employee: "They actually had the passenger remove the clothing that covered the sensitive area and perform a duck walk to see if something would fall out."

There were also charges that profiling is going on for preselection to be strip searched, i.e. a woman with large breasts. One TSA employee has also made the accusation that some of the TSA screeners deliberately kick the magnetometers to set them off in order to be able to pull a well-endowed passenger out of line in order to take them to an office and have them disrobe down to the skin.

Mark Hatfield, TSA Spokesman said in an interview with the I-Team: "The rules are non-negotiable and they apply to everybody."

Hatfield stated that if there were any violations, they would be investigated. Investigated by who privacy experts want to know? The TSA investigates themselves, raising even more ire because those who have been on the other end of these new screening rules say it's akin to the fox guarding the hen house and Americans shouldn't expect any remedies.

More and more Americans are refusing to fly because the TSA refuses to show passengers laws or guidelines being enforced by the TSA (search) and because they feel what is being done to passengers has nothing to do with making flying any safer than before September 11, 2001, i.e. why not spend the money for bomb sniffing dogs for cargo bay checks for every flight and arming pilots instead of hiring men to peep at women's bodies on screening machines? One father who wished to remain anonymous said this entire fiasco is just breeding grounds for pedophiles to get hired as screeners and gropers. What a treat this father says for them to be able to touch children and look at them naked on screening machines - all in the name of checking for bombs.

In another media report in October, Ava Kingsford was told by a female screener, "I'm going to feel your breasts now." This young mother who is breast feeding objected, even breaking down and crying, about having her breasts touched and squeezed. She was finally denied boarding. Even though she pulled down her tank top to show there was nothing there but her breasts, she refused to have them touched, at which time the screeners announced she would wasn't going to fly. Kingsford had to rent a car and drive from Denver International to San Diego; a trip lasting 16 hours. In violation of TSAs own rules, her luggage was not retrieved for her even though she waited several hours at the airport.

The TSA maintains it's screeners did nothing wrong and that the new policy of touching women's breasts became a security priority after two Russian airliners exploded in September from bombs that were possibly smuggled by two women on board. There is no proof to back up this speculation about the cause of the Russian airliners going down, the TSA simply decided to implement these new guidelines based on pure speculation, something not sitting well with Americans who need to fly for business.

Diana Fairechild, a jet safety and wellness authority believes that TSA's policy is a hidden ploy to intimidate passengers into accepting full-body-scan machines at all U.S. airports.

As the air line industry gears up for Christmas travelers, it appears they may suffer even more financial losses because of the TSA and the reluctance of Americans to submit to any further loss of rights and the knowledge they could be pulled aside because of their physical build, strip searched by a stranger with mandatory touching of breasts and other body parts.

Many Americans have already quit flying if it means going into Orlando and other airports that now use screening machines that allow male screeners to view them and their children naked. Susan Meeks, mother of two, now refuses to fly stating: "I got one look at what those screeners could see and said no way am I going to have some male stranger looking at my 12-year old who is just developing, naked on a screen just to fly. Forget it. We drive from now on or we don't go."

� 2004 - All Rights Reserved

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There were also charges that profiling is going on for preselection to be strip searched, i.e. a woman with large breasts.