One substantial problem with the TSA that is seldom discussed is that in the switch from using private security to government agents to screen passengers, there was always going to be a temptation by the Feds to expand the airport screening from narrowly a search for weapons that might endanger an airplane to a catch-all crime search point. Here is an example of the latter:
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."