When your body passes through the TSA’s backscatter X-ray at the airport, dangly bits and all, it’s hard not to imagine that somewhere in the backroom, a team of agents is sitting around with a bowl of popcorn and openly critiquing your physique.
“Could use a little more leg work at the gym,” one agent cracks to another. “Definitely. And time to lay off the carbs,” the other agent retorts as he stuffs a handful of popcorn in his mouth. And not just your body either. Everyone’s shape is up for debate in that moving assembly line of radiated boobs and butts.
Of course, the truth is that TSA agents are trained to look for weapons, drugs and other things that should not be boarding a plane, and that’s likely where their eyes are focused. After a while they probably stop noticing the bodies that may or may not be attached to these items in the first place.
In most cases anyway. Because as ABC News reports, an anonymous blogger claiming to be a former TSA screener says that while agents in private screening rooms tend to handle themselves professionally, the image operating room is pretty much the high school locker room of your worst nightmares.
An airport’s image operating room is where the images taken by the full body scanner get viewed. The blogger, whose website TakingSenseAway.com reveals an enormous distaste for certain TSA practices, paints a pretty damning portrait from what he or she claims is personal experience.
"Personally, in the I.O. room, I witnessed light sexual play among officers, a lot of e-cigarette vaping, and a whole lot of officers laughing and clowning in regard to some of your nude images, dear passengers. Things like this are what happens (at the very least) when you put people who are often fresh out of high school or a GED program (although there are actually a few TSA screeners with PhDs, which I guess is sad on so, so many levels) with minimal training and even less professionalism, into the position of being in charge of analyzing nude images of people in a hermetically sealed room," the post reads.
"TSA officers should never have been viewing nude, radiation-rendered images of passengers in those private rooms, period," the blogger adds.
While it’s impossible to verify the blogger’s account of what goes on, TSA spokesperson David Castelveter’s response to the accusation doesn’t exactly help.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, sometimes offered without foundation. We expect all TSA officers to conduct themselves in a professional manner. Where violations of professionalism occur, appropriate corrective action is taken," he told the news network in remarkably vague language.
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The TSA has recently been burned by a number of passengers flipping the script and recording images of them.
Recent video of a crying disabled girl detained by TSA agents after the 12-year-old “tested positive” for explosives residue has certainly not endeared them to the public.
And last September, a woman claimed she was booted off her flight for talking back to an agent – a claim that was backed up by the cell phone video she recorded of the incident.
The TSA plays a key role in keeping our airways safe but it wouldn’t hurt to hold their behaviour to the same standards of transparency as their X-rayed passengers.