A 56-year-old rape survivor with a pacemaker refused a groping by TSA agents at Austin Bergstrom airport, and was subsequently arrested, pushed to the floor, dragged, and banned from flying from the airport.
KVUE in Austin has the horrifying story:
Claire Hirschkind, 56, who says she is a rape victim and who has a pacemaker-type device implanted in her chest, says her constitutional rights were violated. She says she never broke any laws. But the Transportation Security Administration disagrees.
Hirschkind was hoping to spend Christmas with friends in California, but she never made it past the security checkpoint.
“I can’t go through because I have the equivalent of a pacemaker in me,” she said.
Hirschkind said because of the device in her body, she was led to a female TSA employee and three Austin police officers. She says she was told she was going to be patted down.
“I turned to the police officer and said, ‘I have given no due cause to give up my constitutional rights. You can wand me,’” and they said, ‘No, you have to do this,’” she said.
Hirschkind agreed to the pat down, but on one condition.
“I told them, ‘No, I’m not going to have my breasts felt,’ and she said, ’Yes, you are,’” said Hirschkind.
When Hirschkind refused, she says that ”the police actually pushed me to the floor, (and) handcuffed me. I was crying by then. They drug me 25 yards across the floor in front of the whole security.”
While the TSA’s pornoscanners weren’t involved in this incident, it shows the newfound prevalence of TSA’s aggressive new groping strategy for anyone who doesn’t clear the first round of security checks.
Hirschkind isn’t alone: while sitting in an airport restaurant at LAX on Monday, I spoke with one middle-aged passenger – a conservative woman – spoke about how she also set off a metal detector and had to be groped. She described the experience as “humiliating,” and compared to it how she was sexually assaulted as a foster child. She cried immediately after the groping, saying it was “violating.”
Know your rights this travel season - download our “Know Your Rights” flier, and visit our TSA coverage page for more on pornoscanners and groping.