Daniel Rubin: An infuriating search at Philadelphia International Airport
By Daniel Rubin
At what point does an airport search step over the line?
How about when they start going through your checks, and the police call your husband, suspicious you were clearing out the bank account?
That's the complaint leveled by Kathy Parker, a 43-year-old Elkton, Md., woman, who was flying out of Philadelphia International Airport on Aug. 8.
She says she was heading to Charlotte, N.C., for work that Sunday night - she's a business support manager for a large bank - and was selected for a more in-depth search after she passed through the metal detectors at Gate B around 5:15 p.m.
A female Transportation Security Administration officer wanded her and patted her down, she says. Then she was walked over to where other TSA officers were searching her bags.
"Everything in my purse was out, including my wallet and my checkbook. I had two prescriptions in there. One was diet pills. This was embarrassing. A TSA officer said, 'Hey, I've always been curious about these. Do they work?'
"I was just so taken aback, I said, 'Yeah.' "
What happened next, she says, was more than embarrassing. It was infuriating.
That same screener started emptying her wallet. "He was taking out the receipts and looking at them," she said.
"I understand that TSA is tasked with strengthening national security but [it] surely does not need to know what I purchased at Kohl's or Wal-Mart," she wrote in her complaint, which she sent me last week.
She says she asked what he was looking for and he replied, "Razor blades." She wondered, "Wouldn't that have shown up on the metal detector?"
In a side pocket she had tucked a deposit slip and seven checks made out to her and her husband, worth about $8,000.
Her thought: "Oh, my God, this is none of his business."
Two Philadelphia police officers joined at least four TSA officers who had gathered around her. After conferring with the TSA screeners, one of the Philadelphia officers told her he was there because her checks were numbered sequentially, which she says they were not.
"It's an indication you've embezzled these checks," she says the police officer told her. He also told her she appeared nervous. She hadn't before that moment, she says.
She protested when the officer started to walk away with the checks. "That's my money," she remembers saying. The officer's reply? "It's not your money."
At this point she told the officers that she had a good explanation for the checks, but questioned whether she had to tell them.
"The police officer said if you don't tell me, you can tell the D.A."
So she explained that she and her husband had been on vacation, that they'd accumulated some hefty checks, and that she was headed to her bank's headquarters, where she intended to deposit them.
She gave police her husband's cell-phone number - he was at her mother's with their children and missed their call.
My name is Patrick M McCormick and I have created this blog as a platform for my political views as well as those of select contributors.
I believe that American Politicians have lost sight of their goal: To uphold the Constitution and protect the rights of the people of the United States. They argue and bicker on the floor of their respective houses, positioning themselves for the next election, while they accomplish very little business for the citizens of this country.
Meanwhile our economy is sliding downward. Millions of our precious jobs have have been exported overseas. Our social safety net and other public services are being cut. Our middle class is rapidly disappearing and the numbers of citizens existing below the poverty line is increasing dramatically.
I plan to examine the causes of these terrible changes to our American way of life. Your comments will help us all arrive at some important conclusions.