TSA Videos FOIA Response – Portland Thanksgiving Poking

Here’s some video and photographic material to accompany today’s USA Today article on my TSA encounter in Portland on Thanksgiving morning. The films were provided in response to my Freedom of Information Act request in December.  The response included a bevy of internal TSA emails.  I was surprised that the TSA Office of Chief Counsel was quickly involved in the response with email subject headings “Tort Claim.”  Hmmmm….

The FOIA response included statements (written after I filed my FOIA request in at least 2 cases) from each of the 3 TSA agents who took me behind closed doors.  TSA is proud of its Behavior Detection Officers – but the BDO statement made me burst out laughing. He wrote: “I asked the passenger what brought him to Portland and passenger informed me he was an activist/blogger and he attend [sic] a conference here talking about the government and its security.” I clearly stated that I was a journalist but did not mention any affiliations or who I wrote for.  I said I was in Portland to speak at a conference about liberty (the annual Freedom Seminar) – not about “the government and its security.” Maybe he confused that response with my scoffing at their “security theater.”  Not sure if that BDO was actually that clueless or if there may be some other motive for them seeking to attach the “activist/blogger” label.  TSA agents searched my carry-on shoulder bag several times but never noticed the U.S. Senate Press Gallery pass and metal necklace – even though it was not hidden.

Here’s an excerpt of the first patdown. I’m the guy with the bulky off-white shirt in the left side of the film. The second patdown – behind closed doors – was far more aggressive and intrusive.

Marched into the Private Security Room by three TSA agents

Taking a couple quick photos and notes immediately upon being released from Private Security Room

Swinging back to photograph the Private Security Room again – durn Nikon D-40 flash was misfiring at times.

Here’s a snippet of me ambling to my departure gate after the search

Here is my timeline in Portland airport, according to surveillance video. (PAX is their abbreviation for passenger.) The videos I received had other gaps aside from the 7 minutes behind closed doors. As I was snapping pictures, I was accosted by a TSA agent who told me that I was not allowed to photograph the Private Security Room. I told him that I had just been searched and interrogated there and that it was my right to photograph it. He groused and walked off.

JPB PDX timeline from TSA CCTV FOIA_edited-1

Here’s a photo of the Private Security Room I took after the search that morning:TSA-Portland-Interrogation-Room-#2

Here’s an outtake from the video – me explaining to the TSA luminary that his Explosive Trace Detector positive alert was a load of crap.

edited JPB by Explosive Trace Detector Explaining Why Results are BS Snapshot 11 (3-13-2016 12-33 PM)

Here’s some photos someone compiled and posted of the TSA patdown of a ten-year-old girl at the Raleigh-Durham airport last December. She triggered a false explosive detection advice – the same sin I committed.
san diego TSA-patdown-of-girl

Here’s an outtake photo from the final TSA video

Photoshop #2 jpb walking Snapshot 3 (3-14-2016 10-49 PM)

And here’s my favorite souvenir from PDX –



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8 Responses to TSA Videos FOIA Response – Portland Thanksgiving Poking

  1. O.B.Server March 21, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

    Precedent established: you’ve got all the rights a dog has at a vet, all the rights a cow has in a barn, all the rights of slave. Government can insert itself, literally, into your daughter’s, your wife’s, your son’s, your own vagina and rectum. That’s the freedom and liberty US government we all know now: government ordering itself to insert someone’s literal fingers up your rectum and in your vagina, literally. Not metaphorically. Literally.

    Casus belli, then:


    Oh how they bend over for government, now:
    (see above)

  2. frenchy March 22, 2016 at 3:49 am #

    Anyone who is in an airport at 4:12am is suspicious!!

    • Jim March 22, 2016 at 9:33 am #

      The time stamp was off – it was actually from 7:30 a.m. onwards.

      But I am not a natural-born dairy farmer so – ya, 4:12 am and my IQ definitely would not have been in three digits.

  3. Ryan March 22, 2016 at 6:08 pm #


    I don’t know, betweet that Amish looking hat and the fact you had your hands in your pockets looks mighty suspicious. Better safe than sorry.

    As much money as we spend for this crap you’d think that they would use top of the line equipment. The crummy video does your beard no justice.

    Don’t you miss the good old days of flying when the only pests you had to contend with were the Hari Krishna nuts?

    • Jim March 22, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

      Amish hat??? I bought that in Portland – it is supposedly waterproof – and since it always rains out there. Ya, it does look Amish – but the cigar in my pocket should settle any doubts on that score.

      Not sure if I can complain about the video and my beard — a grainy picture might be the best I could hope for.

      Good point on the Hare Krishna – they might be persistent but they never claimed a legal right to grope.


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