Why Did TSA Pat Down Kids, Adults Getting Off Train?

Posted Feb 28th 2011 05:00 PMUpdated Mar 1st 2011 09:50 AM

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A Florida firefighter says he couldn't believe it when Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents gave "intrusive" pat-downs to passengers including kids getting off an Amtrak train in Savannah, Georgia earlier this month.

Lt. Brian Gamble, 38, of Leesburg, Florida, posted video of the incident on YouTube. And the TSA is now apologizing.

Gamble, who also works part-time as a travel agent, tells AOL Travel News he was bringing a small group that included other firefighters and policemen to Savannah for a Valentine's Day getaway. They were among 30 or 40 people getting off the train when he says TSA officers ordered everyone into the terminal.

"They sent us all into a roped-off holding area and said 'Y'all are going to be searched,'" Gamble says. "We were getting off the train. This didn't make sense."

Once in the area, the group was guarded while TSA officers began doing what Gamble says were "intrusive" pat-downs.

When he saw a family with young kids in the lineup, he took out his camera and started filming. He does not know the identity of the family.

"They were in front of us. They (the TSA agents) started lifting their shirts and wanding them."

Gamble's wife, Traci, 38, and a female friend were also searched and he says female TSA officers made them lift their shirts up to their midriffs and patted their bras.

"One guy went through (Traci's) hand luggage and smelled her perfume and made comments about it smelling good. It was just not professional. It was just weird," Gamble says.

"My wife was livid," he adds. "We thought this is silly, we are being harassed by the TSA."

Nearing the front of the line for his own search, Gamble complained to a TSA supervisor but says he was told to calm down. "They wouldn't give us an explanation for the search."

Meanwhile, the passengers' luggage was sitting on the train platform. So the fireman waved over an officer from the Georgia State Patrol to point that out.

"I explained what was going on, he left for a few minutes and then came back and took six of us in our group and said 'Sorry about that, go get your luggage, you're good to go.'"

Gamble says he would have had no problem with such a search happening on a train, "But getting off the train, that was kind of backwards."

With Gamble's video gaining steam on the Internet, the TSA took to its blog over the weekend to explain what happened.

The TSA's Blogger Bob writes that what the Savannah train passengers encountered is known as a VIPR operation, a randomized search "where anyone entering an impacted area has to be screened."

Such searches – involving federal, state and local law enforcement – were stepped up in 2004 in the wake of the Madrid train bombings in which 181 people were killed, and happen around the country on a regular basis, the TSA says.

"In this case, the Amtrak station was the subject of the VIPR operation so people entering the station were being screened for items on the Amtrak prohibited items list as seen in the video," Blogger Bob writes.

But Bob adds the TSA learned the VIPR operation in Savannah "should have ended by the time these folks were coming through the station since no more trains were leaving the station. We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused for those passengers."

The TSA says the passengers did not have to go into the terminal to leave the station. But Gamble says the TSA agents didn't give them a choice.

"Their apology is kind of lame," he says. "I thought this whole thing was very unprofessional and very shady."



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Maj Variola

Why do americans obey anyone in uniform? TSA have ZERO authority.

Touch me, your finger is mine.

October 28 2011 at 5:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Piggot

Just start whipping it out, and pissing on them. I'm serious.

If a hundred people did this, they'd be unable to manage.

October 28 2011 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Piggot's comment
FreedomFigher

ROFL, you know whats better than that, at a Phoenix Airport they searched a 90 year old females diaper because and i quote "it was warm and firm". We that shows two things, 1. the TSA are brain dead buffoons since well its full of crap how else could crap be described as...."steamy" 2. isn't it odd they always say sorry after the fact and never ever try and preventive measures to not let it happen again.

December 28 2012 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jhshifris

Here, I was planning on going to California on the Amtrak and now, the TSA is also at the train stations? Just what we need.

July 09 2011 at 12:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thomas

Looks like the TSA is the new workplace for convicted child molesters; now they can fondle kids in public without having to worry about going to jail again.

/sarcasm

June 21 2011 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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April 09 2011 at 10:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sorcerer47

The guy who tried to destroy the plane back last Christmas, the underwear person, had help getting on the plane in South Africa, he had no passport, or ticket yet someone dressed very well helped him get onboard as reported by people waiting at the gate. What about that stuff?

March 11 2011 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Travel_MAN

I get gropped often at the airports. I always refuse the body scan for health reasons. The FDA and CDRH issued alerts and warnings that the public should be aware that we are all be exposed to much more radiation over time than we should allow. The issue is not a one time scan but the effects of continuous exposure. The government employees and aurothorities are human and read what they want to read and make conculsusions. None of the TSA's are experts. They are mainly under paid average people with a government job. I do not want to be exposed on a regular basis to machines that may or may not be calibrated correctly. The Veterans Admin over exposed people for years. Who ran it? the Federal Government.

The illegal search is still safer to unknown long term effects of exposure to regular flyers.

Today an Atlanta TSA gave me a hard time for opting out. He was rude. I told him I was going to watch my stuff on the belt, he didn't like it and wanted me to watch him. I said no. He was pissy like a little kid. He gave me the standard speech and interuptted me multiple titimes. What a moron and thug. I told him he could grop me as much as he wanted. It's clear they are poorly trained on an important subject.

This is another case of hte government doing an important job using the lowest bidders.

March 07 2011 at 10:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Caroline

I kind of do not care if the poor sad TSA people lose their jobs because they obey illegal orders.

Everyone who has been in the military has been trained to disobey clearly illegal orders.

There is no "I was obeying orders" excuse allowed.... they settled that at Nuremberg half century back.

The one good thing is that every single of these disloyal people are carefully documented by the IRS and other agencies. We know who it is who is willing to take a paycheck and then run wild and out of control.

TSA is a dangerous agency that presents more of a danger than the people they are supposed to chase. Guaranteed a rinky-dink joke agency like that is already infiltrated by the friends of "bad guys".

By the way.. I am ex-federal law enforcement... senior enough to, occasionally, demand obedience from state and local law enforcment of three states in performance of my duty.

Civilian amateurs with no sense of duty are a danger to all of us... in more than an inconvenient way.

March 07 2011 at 5:56 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Caroline's comment
Me

you are a moron. I was taught the question bad orders and if you have a better idea then you need to speak up that the military taught me. Once I got into a unit I did a whole lot of pushups and threatened with court martial plenty of times. I was told there is only one way and that is the army way. Do not think that I am only obeying orders is an excuse, they beat it into you. They make you suffer for not or kick you out through a trumped up court martial. I am really lucky I got out with an honorable discharge. I went through hell. The problem is the people in charge not the ones following orders.

December 23 2011 at 2:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JJ

When they started these invasive searches at the airports, I stopped flying and took the train.
When they bring them to the trains, I will stop traveling by train and take a bus.
When they bring them to the busses, I will stop traveling by bus and drive.
When they set up on the streets, I will stop driving and ride a bicycle.
When they stop us on our bicycles to search us, I will sell up and leave the country.

One commenter said, “Get used to it. In time we may find the need to be searched before entering any public place.” I am appalled by those who seem to accept everything the TSA and Homeland Security throw at us in the name of safety as if these measures actually keep us safe. The truth is that they don’t. We’re all going to die at some point, the important thing is how we live. I refuse to live in fear of every little thing the government tells us we need to be afraid of and use to restrict our freedoms.

If most Americans weren’t so poorly educated they wouldn’t mock those who compare the security theater performed by TSA and Homeland Security to the Gestapo or Nazi Germany. Read your history and look closely at how it all began. If you’re willing to give up the very rights that made our country “the land of the free” so easily I would have to say that you deserve to lose that freedom, but realize that you’ve gained no security in exchange. You’ve just replaced one terrorist with another, your own government.

March 04 2011 at 8:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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