Former TSA agent writes scathing exposé on security agency

Former TSA agent writes scathing exposé on security agency

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TSA body scan (Photo by Jason Harrington) TSA body scan (Photo by Jason Harrington)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

"Dear America, I Saw You Naked."

The tweet was posted on Politico's feed Friday morning directed users to a scathing expose by Chicago native and former TSA agent Jason Harrington.

Harrington, a former TSA agent who worked at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, is accusing the agency of abusing public trust including pulling bags and patting down passengers because they were rude.

"I don't know if I'm more concerned about my privacy or my safety at that point, there both not really doing so well. I'm upset. I don't know what people saw when I was going through there," said Erin Clancy, a Chicagoan.

But Jason Harrington does. The former TSA insider says, "Many of the images we gawked at were of overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display," wrote Harrington.

Harrington says TSA knew the full body scanners didn't work, quoting an instructor.

"He said we wouldn't be able to distinguish plastic explosives from body fat and that guns were practically invisible if they were turned sideways in a pocket," said Harrington.

"I find that very difficult to believe. If it's a full body scanner that they use to spot people's medical conditions or whatever then I'm sure those things can spot knives and guns," said Scott Green, a Chicagoan.

TSA says many of the procedures and policies Harrington referenced are no longer in place or are characterized inaccurately.

The full body machines are no longer used but Joseph Schwieterman says the damage is done.

"I think this plays to public fear. For one, that the security isn't working and now there's sort of a secondary concern that the agents themselves aren't of the highest professionalism," said Schwieterman, a professor at DePaul University.

TSA says its top priority is to protect the public and every policy and security procedure in place is designed to mitigate threats.

Harrington's confessions include details about a remote room filled with monitors and no surveillance cameras. He says, "Officers who were dating often conspired to get assigned to the Image Operator room at the same time, where they analyzed the nude images with one eye apiece, at best."

"I think there should be some surveillance in those spaces to monitor that type of behavior, it shouldn't be tolerated," said Jaquanda Villegas, a Chicagoan.

Harrington left the agency in April.

TSA issued a response to the article saying, "TSA's top priority is to protect the traveling public, and every policy and security procedure in place is designed to mitigate threats to passengers and the aviation sector – which we know our adversaries continue to target. TSA is always taking steps to enhance our procedures, to most importantly stay ahead of evolving threats, and wherever possible to also improve the experience of the traveling public.

Many of the TSA procedures and policies referenced in this article are no longer in place or are characterized inaccurately. Every passenger deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and TSA policy upholds this standard. TSA does not tolerate any form of unethical or unlawful behavior by its employees and takes swift disciplinary action if discovered.

 Since November 2011, TSA has aggressively implemented risk-based security procedures to move away from a ‘one-size-fits-all' approach. Since that time more than 55 million passengers have experienced some form of expedited security screening – dramatically different than the procedures of years past.

TSA has installed Automated Target Recognition software on every Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) unit in use, eliminating the analyzed images referenced in the article.

In addition, TSA has implemented changes in screening for passengers 12 and under and over 75, implemented programs to accommodate Wounded Warriors, and has instituted one-step removal procedures in many cases for employees behaving unethically or unlawfully."

Fox 32's Tisha Lewis reports Chicago is the second busiest airport in the country with 2,400 flights per day.

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