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Don't Touch My Junk Man San Diego Airport Video Goes Viral While TSA Threatens Lawsuit

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

As airline passengers rail against new full body scanners and use throughout the nation, a San Diego man’s cell phone video--"Don't Touch My Junk"--has gone viral while airport passengers across the nation rally behind the protests against what many view as groping by TSA.
It all began with an American Airlines flight and planned vacation heading out from San Diego's California airport--it temporarily ended with threats of a civil lawsuit and $10,000 fine, but it's far from 'over': John Tyner, a 31-year-old career software engineer from Oceanside, Southern California, had his planned hunting trip interrupted after refusing the new full body scan technology being employed by the airport and TSA.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers—whom pick airline travelers at “random” for enhanced security checks—chose Tyner, for the controversial new full body scans being used. While proponents of the newest body scans cite airline and anti-terrorism safety, the backscatter technology is raising safety and possible health hazard concerns related to the radiation.
Airline passengers are up in arms over the new TSA screening procedures--which many feel are highly invasive.
Health hazards and risks related to the low-level radiation emitted by the new full-body scan machines has meant that many passengers refuse screening by the “Advanced Imaging Techonology” scanning machines. TSA now says that any passenger refusing to submit to the AIT scanners must instead submit to rigorous pat-down inspections that include the inside of travelers' thighs and buttocks—or as the San Diego, California, TSA agent told Tyner, two times up and two times down the groin area from the inside and outside.
The American Civil Liberties Union is denouncing the full body scan machines as a "virtual strip search", while travelers view the alternate “pat-down” as bordering on a real strip search.
Not every U.S. airport is using the new full body scan imaging but new TSA requirements are in effect at some airports, with roughly 385 of the new machines scattered throughout U.S. airports--the problem being that requirements are still a bit hazy as to where the fully body scanners are being used and at which airport locations. At those airports, airline passengers to have submit to either full-body scan technology or an enhanced pat-down, which includes the groin area. The new body scanners being used by TSA at United States airports are called “Advanced Imagery Technology” (AIT) units, dubbed "naked scans", and are not proving popular with airline passengers.
Tyner had refused both the full body scan and pat-down, complete with groin check, at San Diego International Airport over the weekend--choosing to video the entire interactions with TSA and airport security over the duration of the experience.
It appears that the real problems began after the TSA agent instructed the traveler how he would be performing the enhanced pat-down and groin check—to which Tyner initially agreed. Tyner followed up the “alright” statement by then telling the San Diego TSA worker, "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested."
The SAN TSA employee then told Tyner he’d be calling a supervisor because of the statement. A TSA supervisor told Tyner: "If you're not comfortable with that we can escort you back out and you don't have to fly today.
Said Tyner: "OK, I don't understand how a sexual assault be made a condition of me flying," Tyner says. The (would-be) flier did follow instructions to leave the airport permanently--additionallly allowed to have his American Airlines ticket refunded prior to his exit.
Tyner had left his cell phone recording of video, his mobile device catching the whole series of events—captured in four separate segments--with airport staff and TSA agents. Tyner blogs under the handle “Johnny Edge”, and it isn’t too far-fetched to believe that the whole San Diego International Airport incident—and cell phone video that’s gone viral—tends toward the greatest of PR ploys for the blogger. While Tyner claims to have had no knowledge of the full body scans being employed at San Diego International Airport, news articles speak of the unhappiness of passengers during the enhanced scanning deployment that began November 11.
While the news media may have covered the use of fully body scans, it remains unclear as to whether the San Diego Airport and TSA actually properly notified passengers--leaning toward the idea that, perhaps, notification was not properly rolled out to traveling passengers, which could mean a violation of rights.
The airport, obviously unaware of rolling video footage, has not been the smartest in its handling of Tyner's body scan and pat-down refusal: video footage does serve as a great embarrassment to the San Diego terminal—as do Tyner’s final moments with what appear to be a TSA agent, however the man remains unidentified.
After the engineer was barred by San Diego International Airport, and its TSA, from boarding his flight for the planned hunting trip he was escorted by officers to leave the airport. The passenger was then intercepted, however, by what appears to be either a TSA worker or an airport employee, who threatens the engineer with a lawsuit or fine of $10,000-- for not completing security screening.
Tyner tells it in his blog at the attached link--but the man tells Tyner, on video: “It will look better for you, when we bring the case against you that we’re going to bring, that you cooperate.”
What precipitated the encounter, Tyner blogs, is that after his American Airlines ticket refund, “at this point, I thought it was all over.
I began to make my way to the stairs to exit the [San Diego] airport, when I was approached by another man in slacks and a sport coat. He was accompanied by the officer that had escorted me to the ticketing area and…informed me that I could not leave the airport.
He said that once I start the [TSA] screening in the secure area, I could not leave until it was completed. Having left the [secure] area, he stated, I would be subject to a civil suit and a $10,000 fine. I asked him if he was also going to fine the 6 TSA agents and the local police officer who escorted me from the secure area. After all, I did exactly what I was told. He said that they [the officers and multiple TSA agents] didn’t know the rules, and that he would deal with them later. They would not be subject to civil penalties. I then pointed to Mr. Silva [TSA Supervisor] and asked if he would be subject to any penalties. He is the [TSA] agents' supervisor, and he had directed them to escort me out. The man informed me that Mr. Silva was new and he would not be subject to penalties, either.
He again asserted the necessity that I return to the screening area. When I asked why [the necessity to return to the secure area], he explained that I may have an incendiary device and whether or not that was true needed to be determined [by TSA]. I told him that I would submit to a walk through the metal detector, but that was it; I would not be groped.”
He told me that their [San Diego TSA] procedures are on their website, and therefore, I was fully informed before I entered the [San Diego International] airport; I had implicitly agreed to whatever screening they deemed appropriate. I told him [the TSA employee] that San Diego [airport] was not listed on the TSA's website as an airport using Advanced Imaging Technology, and I believed that I would only be subject to the metal detector. He replied that he was not a webmaster, and I asked then why he was referring me to the TSA's website if he didn't know anything about it.”
Tyner says: “The man asked me to stay put while he walked off to confer with the officer and Mr. Silva. They went about 20 feet away and began talking amongst themselves while I waited…after a few minutes, I asked loudly across the distance if I was free to leave. The man dismissively held up a finger and said, "hold on". I waited. After another minute or so, he returned and asked for my name. I asked why he needed it, and reminded him that the female supervisor/agent had already taken a report. He said that he was trying to be friendly and help me out. I asked to what end.
He reminded me that I could be sued civilly and face a $10,000 fine and that my cooperation could help mitigate the penalties I was facing. I replied that he already had my information in the [officers'] report that was taken and I asked if I was free to leave. I reminded him that he [the unidentified man shown in video segment part four of Tyner's airport experience] was now illegally detaining me and that I would not be subject to screening as a condition of leaving the [San Diego] airport. He told me that he was only trying to help (I should note that his demeanor never suggested that he was trying to help. I was clearly being interrogated.), and that no one was forcing me to stay. I asked if tried to leave if he would have the [police] officer arrest me.
He again said that no one was forcing me to stay. I looked him in the eye, and said, "then I'm leaving". He replied, "then we'll bring a civil suit against you", to which I said, "you bring that suit" and walked out of the [San Diego] airport.”
San Diego International Airport held a press conference the next morning, following the Tyner video and its viral release—timing of the media conference a reflection of yet another PR nightmare for TSA agents.
This one may prove another tough one for TSA: video and audio footage reflects that TSA agents and officers are unclear, themselves, as to TSA requirements and protocol. The verbal threats of civil lawsuits and fines, made to Tyner, are having a rough appearance for TSA--whether or not its initial actions were justified. The appearance is that traveling passengers were not properly notified of the newly-instituted TSA and San Diego airport policies.
Though Tyner's phrasing might've been better than "don't touch my junk"--or possibly more effective with a different choice of words--the outcome probably wouldn't have been too different. The only difference may have been had the airport and TSA been aware of the video footage. Only weeks ago, a young woman was filmed crying, after a TSA agent rips her boarding pass, when she also declined the enhanced pat-down methods now being utilized at certain U.S. airports.
An Express Jet airline pilot also refused a full body scan weeks ago, the Express Jet employee telling TSA agents he didn't want to be harassed or "molested". Meanwhile, pilots' unions are instructing pilots to refuse the full body scanners now used by some airports--citing health concerns for pilots as employees, and possible health hazards of radiation emitted by the newer backscatter scanning ATI machines used to create full-body images. 


San Diego International Airport (SAN)
3225 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
Phone: (619) 400-2404
32° 43' 45.4044" N, 117° 11' 25.332" W
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