30 November 2010

The "whole" truth

[Readers arriving from the Alternet article from April 28th, 2011 linking to this post may also be interested in reading my response.]

Today I got a call from a reporter asking about a blog post that I had written on November 1st. I was a bit taken aback. I thought that the time for my story had come and gone, and at first I didn't realize what she was talking about. After we hung up, I remembered that about two weeks prior to my encounter with the TSA at the San Diego airport, I wrote a blog entry about the TSA. Don't bother looking for it because I deleted it prior to posting my recollection of the events and the accompanying video. I don't have any copies of it, either. In it, though, I was especially critical of the TSA's new body scanners and pat down procedures. I had been reading about them in the news and wanted to include my two cents for the few people that actually followed my blog but weren't necessarily aware of them (the scanners and procedures). I don't recall exactly what I wrote, but I'm sure that substance of the post will turn up soon enough.

Near the end of the post, I noted that I had an upcoming trip in which I would be flying. Knowing also that I had about 12 readers, at the time, I jokingly asked how I should handle myself if I was selected for a secondary screening. I listed a number of options including "enjoying" the pat down, claiming a sexual assault, stuffing my pants with extra tissue paper prior to entering the screening area, etc. All of this, I thought, was moot at the time, though, because as I have repeatedly said, I was under the impression that neither San Diego nor Rapid City had the body scanners. When I posted my account and video of my encounter at San Diego, I also deleted the post in question. I thought that no one would believe that my encounter was not a set up if they knew that I had been critical of the TSA scanners and procedures in the past and written, even jokingly, about how to handle an encounter with them. Silly me for thinking that anything on the Internet, no matter how obscure, could ever actually be removed.

So, all of you who believed that this was planned, here is your "proof". For the umpteenth time, however, I did not script, plan, or stage what happened. I was, I have admitted repeatedly, prepared for such a situation by virtue of having read accounts of people like Steve Bierfeldt, Michael Roberts, and Meg McLain in addition to commentary about both these events and the scanners from numerous sources; but I did not plan it. To be honest, part of me wishes that I had because it would be much easier for me to tell my story, but the fact is that I didn't.

To those of you who feel duped, I apologize. There is no reason to feel that way, though. I stand by my assertion that the encounter was not planned or staged. I stand by my account of the events that occurred at San Diego airport. And I stand by everything that I have said and written since the event. I stood up to what I saw as an affront to everyone's 4th amendment protections and dignity, and that has started a real conversation about how much liberty we're willing to give up in the name of feeling safe. Let's not lose sight of what's really important, here.

And when I say that I stand by everything I've written, that includes what I wrote in my last post about being glad that my time in the spotlight had come to an end. I hope that the "revelation" that I had written about how to handle an encounter with the TSA and deleted said writing doesn't thrust me back into that spotlight, and in the event that it does, I hope that this post will answer any questions people may have about it because I truly don't want the publicity.


  1. Hi John,

    Whether you went in with the idea to make the now famous "If you touch my junk..." line or not the behavior of the TSA that day was ridiculous and showed them for what they are...societal rejects with a badge who have no world perspective.

    Thanks again,

  2. I hope you're doing well and I wish you the best in the new year.

  3. Hi there, just read a story by a guy named Mark Ames suggesting that your "apology" was for saying that the TSA searches were invasive. It's obvious from reading this post that your apology was for deleting a post in which you joked about what they would do to you, as though it would be impossible to do that AND dislike the surveillance. Anyway, I read about what you did when it happened....I don't see the controversy in what you did. I hope you're well.

  4. You might be interested to know that this post was referenced in the Alternet article "Did You Fall for It? America's Outrage Over TSA Naked Body Scanners Was Right-Wing PR to Prevent Workers from Unionizing"


  5. I'd rather have my junk touched than my plane flown into a building. . .
    Also, the Exiled linked here. Expect trolls.

  6. I also read the reference at Alternet. I think the big scam is not the privacy issue but profiteering from the huge investment in equipment. I was scanned recently, the line was such that the screen was visible to each person as they approached. Not much to see, just a skeleton. No big deal, I never thought it was.

  7. Thank you for being forthcoming and honest about the situation. This post wonderfully exposes the hack job going on over at Alternet. Your "Palms up" approach and honesty have allowed me to get some of my friends looking more critically at all of their articles, not just the one mentioned above. Once again thank you and good luck.

  8. I started reading Ames+Levines article on alternet the other day following their supporting links along the way which brought me to your site. Based on what you had written I thought they were being very misleading and that they should make a correction to their story. I emailed alternet my concerns. No response. I tweeted an editor. No response. I tweeted exiledonline. No response. I wrote a comment on the article hosted on exiledonline critical of the authors and saying that you possibly deserved an apology. That was a few days ago. Today I checked the comment section their to see if there had been any response and there was. Of a sort. My comment had been almost entirely rewritten. My comment, which was originally critical of the authors and supportive of Tyner, had been mostly replaced with a statement saying Jon Tyner was lying and should apologize to America. Shocking that they would resort to that. It does actually say that "Comments can and will be censored at whim and without warning" but I didn't think that anybody would actually edit comments to entirely change the meaning of what was written. People who call themselves "journalists" did that.

  9. @Justin
    I wonder if the journalists at exitedonline might be guilty of identity theft or possibly fraud for changing the content of your comment.
    I also can't understand why people would even support destroying the 1st Amendment, not to mention the 4th.


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