TSA: What else are friends for?

Transportation Security Administration officials in Denver bent over backward to give a co-worker some cheap thrills.  They manipulated the screening system so that one of their male friends could grope the genitals of handsome male passengers.

The practice was uncovered by the CBS affiliate in Denver, and two of the TSA employees have been fired.

What else are friends for?

 A CBS4 investigation has learned 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.

It happened roughly a dozen times, according to information gathered by CBS4.

According to law enforcement reports obtained during the CBS4 investigation, a male TSA screener told a female colleague in 2014 that he “gropes” male passengers who come through the screening area at DIA.

“He related that when a male he finds attractive comes to be screened by the scanning machine he will alert another TSA screener to indicate to the scanning computer that the party being screened is a female. When the screener does this, the scanning machine will indicate an anomaly in the genital area and this allows (the male TSA screener) to conduct a pat-down search of that area.”

Although the TSA learned of the accusation on Nov. 18, 2014 via an anonymous tip from one of the agency’s own employees, reports show that it would be nearly three months before anything was done.

On Feb. 9 TSA security supervisor Chris Higgins watched the screening area, observing the employees. “At about 0925 he observed (the male TSA screener) appear to give a signal to another screener … (the second female screener) was responsible for the touchscreen system that controls whether or not the scanning machine alerts to gender- specific anomalies, according to a law enforcement report obtained by CBS4.

According to the report, the TSA investigator then watched a male passenger enter the scanner at DIA “and observed (the female TSA agent) press the screening button for a female. The scanner alerted to an anomaly, and Higgins observed (the male TSA screener) conduct a pat down of the passenger’s front groin and buttocks area with the palm of his hands, which is contradictory to TSA searching policy.”

The TSA is refusing to release the video of the groping.  No doubt that if they did, it would go viral in minutes.

This isn't the first incident of its kind at the Denver airport.  In December 2013, a female passenger claimed she was "sexually assaulted" by a female TSA agent during a pat-down:

Jamelyn Steenhoek filed a complaint against TSA screeners at the airport saying the frisking she received in December 2013 amounted to a sexual assault. She said a female TSA agent searched her at an airport checkpoint after an alarm went off.

“There are just areas of my body I’m not comfortable being touched in. On the outside of my pants she cupped my crotch,” said Steenhoek, who called the frisking “invasive.”

She said “the part of the search that bothered most was the breast search. You could tell it shouldn’t take that much groping. I felt uncomfortable, I felt violated.”

You have to wonder if similar problems exist at other airports.  Given that passengers subjected to this kind of assault rarely report it, the chances are good that the groping for sexual gratification is widespread and a real problem within the system.

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