Rep. Francisco Canseco (R-Texas) on Thursday detailed his recent experiences with the Transportation Security Administration after he said an agent got way too aggressive during a pat-down — and then wanted to press charges against him after Canseco complained.
Speaking with Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo — a nationally syndicated radio host based in San Antonio and frequent fill-in for Glenn Beck — Canseco said the first experience happened earlier this month when he was on his way to Washington from San Antonio.
“I went through the full-body scanner, they stopped me and they said ‘we’re going to have to pat you down,’” Canseco, a freshman representative, said. “I said OK; I lifted up my arms, they start patting my leg very, very aggressively. The guy goes up close to my groin and when you get pat there it hurts! And there’s a very human reaction when it hurts there — you move the offensive thing out of the way and you step back.”
He continued, “In doing so, I would expect the TSA agent to say hey, I’m sorry, which would have been OK. Instead he raises his hand, he says ,’I need a manager here, I’ve been assaulted!’”
What followed, Canseco said, was a huddle with “managers, supervisors, police, the whole bit” as the screener wanted to press charges against him and have him arrested.
The congressman — who said he didn’t tell agents who he was — was not allowed to move from the screening area, even to retrieve his shoes, belt or luggage. He said he had his boarding pass and driver’s license confiscated until about 25 minutes later when a police officer responding to the situation told him he wasn’t going to get involved and let him leave.
Canseco said what he found most outrageous was the fact that he’d already been through the full-body scanner, so “they know I’ve got nothing on there.”
“OK fine, they want to pat you down, but accept the fact that you touched something that you shouldn’t and you caused some hurt and there’s a natural human reaction to it, but don’t overreact to it,” Canseco said.
His TSA run-in wasn’t finished yet though, when he was back at the same airport a week later and said he got singled out again for another pat-down. He protested, saying he had just been patted down the week before and that it got “very offensive” and was not going to happen again.
“They held me up for a while, they told me I was not under arrest but I was being detained and I could not leave, I could not do anything, and if I decided not to take the flight again, I still needed to get patted down,” Canseco said.
According to the Houston Chronicle, a TSA spokesman in Dallas confirmed the incidents involving Canseco occurred, but said Canseco was “randomly selected for the additional screening during the first encounter.”
Canseco said his experience was inexcusable and is illustrative of the problems with the TSA as a whole.
“This calls to my attention what an egregious invasion of our privacy and our dignity is happening with TSA,” he said. “The American people expect and deserve safe and secure travel from threats of terrorism when they board a commercial aircraft. But here we have an agency that is getting very aggressive and whether by accident or not it’s going to their head.”
Listen to the full interview below: