A former Transportation Security Administration agent at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago revealed a number of secrets from his time as a TSA agent, alleging agents laughed at passengers’ naked X-ray images and used racial profiling.
Jason Edward Harrington, who was employed at O’Hare from 2007 until last year, said the agency’s “day-to-day operations represented an "abuse of public trust and funds,” he wrote in an article for Politico.
Harrington said up until 2010, TSA officers were provided with a “Selectee Passport List,” which listed 12 nations -- including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, and others-- that automatically triggered enhanced passenger screening.
When TSA first introduced full body scanners, Harrington said workers stationed in an “image operator” room would review scans of passengers’ bodies.
“Jokes about the passengers ran rampant among my TSA colleagues,” he wrote. “Many of the images we gawked at were of overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display.”
Everything from a piercing to a hernia was visible on the scans, he said.
To continue, Harrington alleged that stereotypes about race and genitalia “thrived” on the “secure government radio channels.”
Screeners would issue “red alerts” for attractive women wearing red and “yellow alerts” for attractive women wearing yellow, he wrote.
Difficult or rude fliers were subject to “retaliatory wait times,” often cited as “alarms” or “going above the standard operating procedure for a more thorough screening.”
“The punitive possibilities are endless,” he wrote, “and there are many tricks in the screener's bag."
The TSA didn’t deny Harrington’s claims, but rather said the procedures he refers to are no longer in use, TSA posted Friday in a blog on their website.
“Many of the TSA procedures and policies referenced in a recent opinion piece are no longer in place or are characterized inaccurately,” the post read. “Today’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) looks quite different. Today’s TSA has moved away from a one-size-fits-all approach, and toward a risk-based security posture to better execute our vital mission.”