Angela Rye TSA Pat-Down: Was The CNN Anchor Actually Groped By Airport Personnel? [Opinion]

The Angela Rye TSA pat-down happened late at night inside a nearly vacant Detroit Metropolitan Airport this past weekend. The CNN journalist was so horrified by her experience that she penned an opinion piece entitled, “Dear TSA: the country is not safer because you grab vaginas.”

This specific Angela Rye TSA experience was only the third time in her flying career that she’d had a thorough pat-down. She describes the previous two instances as “uneventful.”

From the very beginning of the Angela Rye TSA pat-down, the “victim” in this case didn’t make the process easy to TSA officials, and it’s pretty obvious from Rye’s op-ed that she thinks herself to be above such inconveniences.

“Randomly selected for additional screening? Child, please — not ‘Diamond on Delta’ me. So when I was selected in a nearly completely empty Detroit Metropolitan Airport last night, I thought it was ridiculous.”

Of course, Angela is far from the only person who has thought being randomly selected by the TSA is “ridiculous.”

This entire Angela Rye TSA incident has the power to remind Americans that anyone is worthy of a random pat-down by the TSA, and that frequent travelers, elite media personnel, and the mega wealthy aren’t exempt from its “ridiculous” policies.

Before the possibility of a TSA pat-down is even mentioned, Angela appears to already be annoyed when she asks why she must spread her feet farther than the marked footprints within the full body scanner.

“What are the footprints there for, then? She insisted that my floor-length dress would stop flowing if my legs were spread that far apart. I shrugged with a ‘girl, I guess’ kind of indifference.”

The Angela Rye TSA pat-down incident began once the body scanner did its thing and the CNN commentator realized that a very personal part of her anatomy had been flagged. Rye immediately went on the defense (or offense, I can’t decide) and told the assisting TSA employee that she was not allowed to touch Rye between her legs.

The female TSA agent said she had to, and when Rye demanded to see the supervisor, he echoed the first agent’s insistence. However, after sensing Angela’s unease, he said he’d call his superior to oversee the situation.

Angela Rye TSA
This photo shows a woman inside an airport security body scanner. To her right the screen displays where threats may be on her person with the yellow squares. [Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

Unfortunately for Angela, she was not going to be able to get on her flight without complying. The supervisor’s boss told her she could choose to go through with the screening or be forced to leave the airport.

The TSA official who had been with Rye from the beginning tried to reassure the distraught news commentator that the search of her vaginal area would only consist of “a backhanded pat around the upper thigh.”

However, by then the Angela Rye TSA confrontation had escalated, thanks in part to her insistence to take a photo of the security screen which showed the flags on her body, specifically the ones highlighted between her legs, but she was forbidden to do so due to TSA policy. At this time, it had gotten to the point where one of the higher-ups told Rye he was going to contact on-duty police officers and ask them to usher her out of the airport.

Luckily for Angela, the cop who arrived sympathized with her uncomfortable situation. Unluckily for her, she still had to go through with the pat-down. The officer agreed to record the ordeal for Rye on her phone.

The physical touching part of the Angela Rye TSA pat-down took just over a minute, and from what you can see, the woman’s hand touched her vagina for a very brief period of time, but it was still upsetting to Rye. Once she’d calmed down, the CNN anchor recorded a separate video in which she talked about the experience.

“The pat-down began and was uneventful until she went down my leg, up my dress, and her hand sideways hits me right in the crack of my labia.”

Angela says when the female TSA agent searched her other leg, the same thing happened. As a female myself, I can understand how this would be upsetting, but I really don’t believe she was groped or “grabbed.” Was it an unpleasant experience? Absolutely, and perhaps the people of TSA should rethink their screening policy.

On the other hand, perhaps this is the price Americans have to pay in the age of terrorism. I wouldn’t put it past a female terrorist to hold something in her vagina in order to carry out a murderous task. Would a female suicide bomber hide the bomb in her nether region? Why not?

The Angela Rye TSA drama reminds us that not so long ago, the media was talking about “cavity bombs,” which, as the name implies, is a bomb that is stored in a body cavity prior to detonation.

Back in 2010, The Atlantic published an article about the threat of these types of explosives in response to the attempted Christmas day bombing of 2009.

According to the article, the TSA is virtually worthless in the face of cavity bombs, unless they add digital penetration to their procedural pat-down.

The author, Jeffrey Goldberg, also brings up a good point. If a terrorist is holding a bomb somewhere inside his or her body and it somehow gets detected by TSA officials, wouldn’t that person just detonate the explosive once they know they’ve been discovered? Goldberg also believes that by the time a terrorist makes it to the airport with a cavity bomb in tow, it’s probably too late for anyone, TSA included, to do much about it.

The Angela Rye TSA pat-down is not the first of its kind, as there are plenty of other videos out there which depict “inappropriate searches” done by airport officials. What do you think? Should the TSA make some changes to their pat-down procedure or is it just one of the things we must deal with in order to keep Americans safe?

[Featured Image by Larry French/Getty Images]