BY CHARLES MEMMINGER – Being a big fan of irony, I was amused to learn of the arrest of a Transportation Safety Administration screener caught stealing money right out of the wallets of Japanese tourists while they were being screened at the Kona airport. You’d think that the national agency whose main duty it is to screen people getting on airplanes to make sure they aren’t carrying bombs would be able to screen its own screeners to make sure they aren’t thieves.

Though TSA officials initially let the thief slip through their nets and secure a position of high security in their organization, I suppose they should get credit for setting up a sting operation and busting the sticky-fingered screener when they learned that she had set up a sweet little operation stealing money from international travelers leaving the Kona airport for home. Still, you have to wonder about an organization that not only hired the crook but allowed her to rise through the ranks to become, according to news accounts, “a lead transportation security officer.”

The female officer’s modus operandi – i.e. method of operation – was not what you would call “sophisticated.” While a passenger was going through the metal detector or getting up close and personal with another TSA screener during a routine grope, the officer would merely paw through the person’s bags, find a wallet and lighten it of only enough cash so as not to be immediately noticeable to the victim.

An undercover TSA agent posing as a Japanese tourist had 13 marked $100 bills in a “Hello Kitty” backpack. (The “Hello Kitty back pack was another nice ironic touch to the operation: “Hello Kitty! Good bye freedom!”) When the backpack emerged on the other side of the scanning machine the agents found that two C-notes were missing. They were found wadded up in the screener’s back pants pocket along with loot suspected to have been taken from other real, non-undercover passengers.

Now, you would expect that the thief’s highly trained fellow security officers, who are able to detect a guilty person simply by gazing into their shifty eyes or noticing rogue drops of sweat drizzling down their forehead, would have noticed their colleague’s brazen wallet diving in broad daylight right in front of them.

But they may have had other things on their minds, like, well … that the TSA reportedly is investigating 27 other officers for failing to screen checked-in baggage for explosives. It makes you wonder what the screeners are doing when they aren’t stealing from passengers and not screening luggage for explosives. Riding on the moving walkways? Taking turns taking snapshots of each other in the radar machine?

The screener apparently resigned from her job after getting caught, which as a damn nice thing for her to do under the circumstances. She could have filed a union grievance alleging entrapment and sued the TSA for ruining her life. (Note: The head of the TSA this year granted, sua sponte, – i.e. “on his own” – TSA employees the right to join federal public employee unions, which most passengers see as just another way for TSA employees to insulate themselves from being fired or punished for misdeeds. I don’t know whether Hawaii TSA workers have yet to avail themselves of that privilege.)

Curiously, the busted screener is not under investigation for theft, but for embezzlement. That’s strange because embezzlement usually applies to “the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted,” like a bank teller who steals money from a cash drawer.

As far as I know, we do not entrust the money we carry on our persons when going through airport screening to the screener. As long as we aren’t carrying more that the legal amount of cash allowed by law, the money is ours and has nothing to do with the TSA. But who knows, as the power of the TSA grows, maybe airports will become the “no rights” zones they seem to be evolving into.

It is because of the oppressive screening environment and the way screeners violate passengers’ personal privacy by invasive searches – while apparently not bothering to look for bombs in bags – that the incident at the Kona airport has caused a gleeful reaction from the teeming traveling masses. As someone fluent in Latin might put it: Accipere quam facere praestat injuriam, which I believe means “Dudes, put your own house in order and don’t touch my junk.”

Comments

comments

9 COMMENTS

  1. It seems that people, of all walks of life like to ping on the TSA. TSA Screeners screwed up again, TSA Screeners steal this and that, TSA Screeners… Well you, apparently are capable of filling in the blanks.

    On the other hand I could take your article and change TSA, Transportation Security Administration, and Screeners, with the name of just about any Law Enforcement Agency in the country and their job titles. Try writing about that.

    Do some research into this and see if it “amuses” you. For you and others who are amused at the screw ups of a minority of TSA Screeners who are dedicated to preventing you from having to reconsider your constant exposure of few peoples wrong doing while free falling from 35,000 feet from a terrorist attacked plane, you might want to investigate and be amused with the organizations that will be there to catch you.

    I suggest you check out these guys and all others like them… Amuses yourself with these news articles links if you dare. These are the people that Serve and Protect you while you sleep:

    Honolulu police officer arrested on suspicion of shoplifting
    http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/global/story.asp?s=13163012

    Exclusive: Two More HPD Officers Arrested For Domestic Abuse
    http://www.kitv.com/r/25337885/detail.html

    Atlanta Police Officer Arrested For DUI
    http://the420times.com/2011/02/atlanta-police-officer-arrested-for-dui/

    Another HPD officer arrested, re-assigned from traffic division
    http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=13229801

    These are only 3 of the 929,000 links Google reported when a search on “Hawaii police officers arrested” was done.

    Try and remember the mission of the majority of Screeners:
    TSA tuetur transportation nationis ratio curandi motum liberum populum commercium.

    In case you really understand Latin it means something Like:
    The Transportation Security Administration protects the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.

    So hope that those protecting you while you sleep are the ones that are dedicated to Serving and Protecting you. Because being a victim of those who work in any Law Enforcement Agency who are not dedicated is not amusing.

    Stephen H Worden

    • Typical straw man argument from a sock puppet. TSA agents are on the front line of our “Homeland Security.” As such they must be above reproach. \We are not talking about a police officers in local jurisdictions. We are talking about federal employees entrusted with the task of keeping us safe from a terrorist attack. Since I am not getting paid for this, I am not going to take the time to supply links. Any informed citizen is well aware of the many abuses of those TSA agents on the front line of our defense against terrorism. The agency has child molesters, drug runners, crooks, and other criminals that are being paid with our tax dollars. Many of these people had criminal records when they were hired. If the TSA can’t police their own, how in the world can we expect them to keep us safe. The only remedy is to fire John Pistole and reform the agency from the ground up. The public has lost confidence in the TSA and no finger pointing at police officers is going to change that.

  2. Considering that Al Qaeda (or Al Chai Da) is just a Pentagon ploy, one must applaud the TSA for providing *some* terror against Americans in lack of real terrorists.

    You can tell “terrorism” is a government ploy not a real existing danger, because the government talks about it. If it were a *real* danger, like BP oil disaster, the true degree of radiation damage from Fukushima, UFOs, or the derivatives bust, the government would keep mum since it has no way to address a real danger. (Oh yeah, sic the TSA to fondle it apart.)

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