TSA and Delta Force Couple Off Plane For Wearing Tee-Shirt Mocking TSA

We have yet another case of passengers being thrown off planes because of a message on their clothing. Arijit Guha and his wife were returning from a funeral on Delta at the Buffalo-Niagara Airport when they were told that his tee-shirt mocking the TSA made passengers and employees feel “very uncomfortable”. Guha is an Arizona State University graduate student.

They were told that before they could fly they would have to allow a full search of their luggage because of the tee-shirt. He would then have to remove his tee-shirt. He was singled out by a Delta supervisor and three TSA agents as well as multiple Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority transit police. All over a satirical tee-shirt.

Even after having their belongings screened numerous times, Guha and his wife were still barred from the flight because they would alarm passengers.
They were then pulled aside for more questioning and Guha was questioned about where his brother lived since it was the brother who bought the mocking tee-shirt.

Notably, the police also said they were suspicious why Guha’s wife did not use his surname.

I have previously written about the legal myth that it is a crime to make a joke at an airport — the basis for thousands of passengers being arrested or placed in temporary custody.

This case adds a free speech dimension to the usual lunacy over airport security. Here TSA agents are interrogating a passenger over a tee-shirt critical of their own agency. Moreover, all too often the “discomfort” of passengers is cited as the basis for harassing or barring individuals. Even if true, it is grossly unfair to force passengers to meet the lowest common denominator of sensibilities of other passengers who may be reflecting their own prejudices or lack of senses of humor. Honestly, how likely is an Al Qaeda operative to seek to destroy a plane in Buffalo wearing a tee-shirt taunting the TSA?

The harassment of a critic of TSA should warrant the closest investigation of this case. If these allegations are true, there should be some discipline meted out by both Delta and the TSA.

52 thoughts on “TSA and Delta Force Couple Off Plane For Wearing Tee-Shirt Mocking TSA

  1. Airport security theater, meet the theater of the absurd.
    Theater of the absurd, meet airport security theater.

    Yeah, taking someone off their flight for wearing a t-shirt that makes the TSA look like the ridiculous intrusive ineffective and unnecessary impediment to travel that they are really went a long way to removing the (rightful) perception that the TSA are a ridiculous intrusive ineffective and unnecessary impediment to travel now, didn’t it?

    Geniuses.

    Repeal the Patriot Act. Dismantle the DHS. Dismantle the TSA.

    Restore common sense. And the Constitution while you’re at it.

  2. “Even after having their belongings screened numerous times, Guha and his wife were still barred from the flight because they would alarm passengers.”

    *Some* of the passengers on the flight *might* have been aware that he had been wearing the t-shirt and/or that there was some fuss. Presumably this fuss would only have been noticeable at the general screening area – as opposed to the gate.

    Now that an army of agents has thoroughly searched and questioned him, he is probably the most trustworthy and non-alarming person on the flight.

    If I were on that flight, it would be less unreasonable to be alarmed about that little old lady in row 10.

    Paranoia.
    “They hate us for our freedom” to be abused by a bunch of freaks.

  3. The only valid reason for passengers to be alarmed by the guy would be:-

    They simply do not trust the TSA to have properly screened someone that had been singled out for special screening.

    Logically, this should mean that they do not trust the TSA to properly screen anyone at all.

    What on earth were they doing on that flight? It’s dangerous!

  4. Something about his name said that he was dark-skinned.
    That helps in profiling.

    Did they erase/copy his laptop, smartphone, pod, notepad, magazines, stains on his briefs. how he parts his hair. what he ate last week……?

    Ameeerrrrriiicccaaa. Home of the Slaves.

    Worth repeating.

  5. Just came back from Europe again, flew to London, then Switzerland, Austria, Germany, then flew to Barcelona and on to Madrid, back hoem to NY via London..what sounds like a nightmare for American travelers unfamiliar with Europe actually wasn’t a big deal..the best part was checking in at a self-service terminal in Munich, just entering my booking code (no ID necessary!), then a 2 minute wait at the security check (with friendly well paid professionals treating you respectfully), no taking off shoes and just a metal detector to walk through (no additional pat down or handheld metal detector), and then entering the plane again just showing my boarding pass (no ID!)..Schengen is AWESOME!!!
    just in case you guys want to make fun of “socialistic” and “bureaucratic” Europe again, I suggest a look in the mirror first…

  6. The TSA is worthless. However, we need security. The problem is if we use criteria ala El AL some folks would be yelling, “profiling.” My old man worked for Pratt&Whitney aircraft. He was a mechanic and then lead foreman in the overhaul dept. Engines come in and as he would say, “we rebuild them so they’re better than when they came off trhe assembly line.” When they worked on Air Force One engines the Secret Service was there. When El Al had engines in the plant, EL AL security was there. My dad said the EL AL were MUCH better. The SS would just look and be aloof. The EL AL guys would chat it up w/ mechanics. After they got to know my old man they would ask him new mechanics on the floor. They were professionals. Good cops can spot body language and demeanor that is hinky. As we know, 80% of all communication is nonverbal. Security is part science, part craft. The TSA is 0 for 2 in those departments.

  7. I would hope everyone would buy a T-shirt mocking the TSA and Homeland Security and wear them when they fly.

    Except that eagle needs to be a moronic chicken with the caricature of Janet Nappypablano for its face.

    I hope they sue the heck out of Delta and the TSA if they can.

  8. Ahemmm, Sweden belongs to Schengen too. Gives us a few Rumanian prostitutes and beggars, but you have to take the good with the bad. (Stunning girls)

    Muslim visitors have to tolerate our customs too. Even the English speak an intelligible dialect when visiting us.

  9. Ah the perfect strategy for a terrorist is to wear an article of clothing that will ensure suspicion, have that person detained, while the real terrorist boards the aircraft. I think they should have cancelled the whole flight on the grounds of its’ being compromised.

  10. Nick,

    That whole comment is worth this week’s number one spot. That is not the first mention of reading people; by even the El Al security people.
    ————————————–

    Bron,

    Don’t be surprised that you get number two nomination.
    Let me know where I can buy one.
    ————————————-

    Geez,
    The crap you people put up with for security in name only. Adn a bad case of chrinic paranoia to boot.

  11. DONE!!

    “And change the guards too, they are spooked too.” Well kinda:

    “Ax falls amid Newark TSA chaos
    By JOSH MARGOLIN
    Last Updated: 3:31 AM, June 27, 2012
    Posted: 2:27 AM, June 27, 2012

    “Nine security screeners at Newark Airport are being fired and 30 more are under investigation after federal officials found serious lapses, The Post has learned.
    “Several of their screeners were sleeping on the job or not screening bags properly,” an internal memo says. The probe began last fall.
    TSA spokesman David Castelveter confirmed a probe “involving possible screening-protocol violations by TSA officers at Newark.”
    The latest embarrassment to the agency took place Saturday, when a JFK Airport terminal had to be evacuated and hundreds of passengers marched back through security because one agent failed to realize a metal detector had been unplugged.”

  12. Seriously, they suspected the wife because her name wasn’t the same? Well, I’d be screwed then; I didn’t do the proper patriarchal thing and take my husband’s name either…..for 35 years I’ve apparently therefore been a potential terrorist!

  13. Nick,

    Anybody can pluck cherries or raisins. Only a few can pick the significant ones. You have the gift. That is what counts, not this weeks prize.

    We’ll never get one here, and I would return it if I did. Not out of disrespect, but realizing the odds then would know the electronic voting machine had failed.

  14. If you poke a stick at a dog enough, the dog might bite you. Then, you can have the dog put down. How ‘right’ of you. Or you can opt to stop being a moron and speak the dog’s language– be gentle. You won’t get far in life if you are constantly howling your rights at the moon, while others learn the dance and enjoy it. Feel poked by my comments? Don’t bite.

  15. Nick. I would venture to say the El Al guys probably gleened 5 times the intelligence from your dad than the secret service ones did just by striking up friendly conversation with him. It’s their job to know everything. And, no offense intended, it was also their job to size up your dad and determine if he was a security risk. Plus they did it in a way your dad found friendly and was certainly more enjoyable for the El Al agents also. Being friendly, more times than not people open themselves up and from a LE standpoint I found this to be a very useful tool.

    THe SS agents should have put their ego aside and been more engaging, they would have served their cause better.

  16. Darren, Absolutely no offense taken. You and I were in the same biz so I understand exactly. And my old man knew they were sizing him up. He realized when he was trusted is when they took him into their confidence. He was pretty sharp.

  17. Today we tolerate people being pulled out of airplanes for what their T-shirts have written on them, tomorrow we will be told to totally shut up, or else. That is how countries like Iran got to where they are today. I know, I was there.

  18. That story is so much less upsetting than I thought it would be. From the headline, I thought it was TSA coupling with Delta Force on a tarmac somewhere. That would have been disturbing!

  19. I saw this article yesterday on another blog and I was hoping the good professor would post this story. I think most of us can agree that this whole incident was idiotic, the TSA are a bunch of untrained thugs, and our Constitutional rights are being shredded every time we go through a checkpoint. Now. The question is “Exactly what are we doing to remedy the situation”? We can complain about it all we want (I frequently do), we can refuse to fly as some of us do, we can write to our congressmen (we are all aware of how well THEY listen if it doesn’t concern the budget or abortion). One can say “Well, we can vote them out next election”. Really? In Ohio or Florida or Texas where the vote is being suppressed? How many politicians do YOU think would be willing to stand up and tell their compadres that DHS must be done away with (ESPECIALLY TSA)? IMHO, the ONLY way to make some changes would be to hit the airlines in their pockets. The only way to do THAT would be to refuse to fly. But like any other protest of this sort, it would take EVERYONE participating, and that will never happen. If the airline’s profits went to zero, they would certainly lean on the federal government to stop this security charade.

  20. Repeal the Patriot Act. Dismantle the DHS. Dismantle the TSA. (Gene)

    Seconded … again and each and every time the motion is offered

  21. Try taking a vacation in the Schengen area, as one has related. Take a break from security charades, suspicion, and fear. Even control freaks find it relaxing. And the food is different. I did not say it is better.

  22. I have to play devil’s advocate here. If someone walked into a movie theater with a satirical shirt on that read “I am plan on shooting innocent people at this movie”, and he/she was detained, would you all be voicing such outrage? I think not.

    I have not seen the t-shirt but if the pic in the post is what was on it (“Gonna Kill USA”), I think this guy should have been removed. What if someone walked onto a plan and said that (in jest or not)? Wouldn’t fellow passengers want him/her removed. In my opinion, this guy is an idiot, sort of like yelling bomb on a plane or fire in a movie theater.

    From the article:
    “Honestly, how likely is an Al Qaeda operative to seek to destroy a plane in Buffalo wearing a tee-shirt taunting the TSA?”

    I think it likely that many people asked similar questions prior to 9/11/01 – “How likely would an Al Qaeda terrorists hi jack a plane and fly it into the WTC?” “How likely would a terrorist actually take flight lessons right under our noses in preparation to do so?”

    Just saying.

  23. This is nothing compared to what happened to a US Airways captain. He was being thoroughly searched at the screening check point, and he was not happy since he was on his way to a flight out of Philadelphia that he was to take command of. He pointed out that since he was a captain taking charge of a flight, that it made NO sense to search him since he had control of an aircraft and could easily do what he wanted with that plane with NO weapon needed. The TSA screener took that as a threat, called security, had him arrested, and he was jailed. He successfully fought the arrest, and got his job back, but it took a LOT of doing including getting Sen. Spector to take a hand in it. ALPA, the pilots union, did virtually nothing to help him.

    Another TSA employee opinied that they had to search pilots to make sure that they did not have a weapon that would let them get control of an aircraft! Finally after many years, flight crew are now being exempted from searches at the airports. It only took them TEN years to figure that one out.

  24. Gene had it right early on. The TSA is a progeny of the “we must be afraid” era that is still pervasive. Mike S. brought up a good point that if the TSA would have let the man wear his shirt and not purposely detain and hassle him, they may be able to be more vigilant for real threats.

  25. http://wonkette.com/481879/maybe-this-shot-up-navy-veteran-lady-will-think-twice-before-startling-a-sheriff-in-her-back-yard-again

    “At some point, while in the backyard of the residence, there was contact between the deputies, who had their weapons drawn, and a female resident of the home,” Nesbit said. “During that contact, one of the deputies fired from his service weapon. The female was struck in the arm by the round.”

    Translation: one of the officers shot an unarmed woman who happened to be in her own yard. Also, “the female” is a Navy veteran who was the first woman to earn Wings of Gold. Oh and according to the hospital, she was shot in the chest, not the arm.

    On Tuesday, Deputy Luke Berhalter was identified as the law enforcement officer who opened fire on Jennifer Orey, who is retired from the U.S. Navy.

    Orey was a swimmer for the Navy’s Air and Sea rescue team and the first woman to earn Wings of Gold, according to family members…. Jim Morgan, the shooting victim’s brother, told 10News her injuries show that she was shot in the chest, and not in the arm as the sheriff’s department reported. 10News learned the bullet went through her left breast, into her arm and through her pinky…Morgan said his sister asked the deputy why he shot her.

    “The cop said, ‘Well, I’m sorry, you startled me,’” said Morgan.

    Gore said the deputies thought Orey’s open gate looked suspicious, so they went into her backyard. The deputies ran into Orey, and one of them had a “spontaneous reaction.”

  26. A few scattered thoughts:

    How off-the-chart, egomaniacal must one be, to bait a pit bull and then complain about dog bites? Such behavior strikes me as juvenile beyond measure. You’re nutty enough to yammer about bombs to people who are tasked with keeping you & your family from blowing up? Here’s a hint: Don’t do it in their house. They just might get as pissy as you would in their stead.

    America is almost childlike, in its constant – and in fact incessant – notion, that a nation as violent as ours, might simultaneously toss together a societal Cobb salad and Jehovah! We’ll all just embrace each other in sub-cultural warmth and get along. We don’t all get along now, and spooning polar-opposite sub-groups into our bowl guarantees serious, and ongoing, conflict. You cannot force civility.

    In our unadulterated zeal to homogenize ourselves to hell & gone, we play the little mind-game called “it’s only fair to treat everybody alike” and proceed to bury that nasty little bugger called “profiling.”

    But in the absence of “profiling” we would scarcely be capable of driving down the street or, indeed, chewing meat without choking. Think about it. You , me, all of us – we profile thousands of times each day. It’s applied logic, plain and simple.

    Profiling works, and yammering that it doesn’t, is intellectually dishonest.

    I strongly suspect the reality – at some point in our future – will become painfully obvious: we are not all alike; many of our sub-groups hold an almost DNA-level abhorrence toward each other; we are creating lethal enemies by our sheer outsized egos stretching beyond our borders, and creating monsters who will never, ever peacefully share anything.

  27. How stooopid!

    If I were going to hijack or crash a plane, I would not wear a noticeably ironic, challenging T-shirt before getting on-board.

    Hello, Hello!!

    (BTW, Delta recently screwed me up so badly that I was stranded in an airport, dead tired, while my friend died of cancer in Oregon without me, and I was her medical proxy. I am so tired and sick now I’m having trouble writing up my complaint about what they did to cause this — it was not simply a matter of a missed flight or anything normal like that, but a series of outrages that don’t belong on this thread. A cab-driver who rides vouchers for Delta told me about their actual planned derailing of passengers as part of their policy. It makes sense, but is an absolute outrage, and this time, had horrible, irreparably bad results. I considered what was done — to me and a dozen others — a corporate crime.)

  28. PatrickParamedic, I have a man crush! Well said. The Sycophant Society lead by Emporer Gene may have to respond to your non pc. He’ll be longwinded and pompous. His school marm will link, The Nation, Daily Beast, Huffington, etc obsessively like Rainman, and then a few of the chattering classes will give smiley faces. It’s a neverending play.

  29. Actually I like Patric even though I don’t always agree with him. He’s a little grumpy today, but unlike a troll, he usually is a net add to the forum. Big Smile! :D

  30. This t-shirt and matching bag are probably not on sale at airport shops, so you have to buy your terrorist disguise before arriving at the airport.
    http://shirt.woot.com/plus/threat-level-doctorow-1

    “How off-the-chart, egomaniacal must one be, to bait a pit bull and then complain about dog bites? Such behavior strikes me as juvenile beyond measure. You’re nutty enough to yammer about bombs to people who are tasked with keeping you & your family from blowing up? Here’s a hint: Don’t do it in their house. They just might get as pissy as you would in their stead.”

    The idea of the design seems to be one of protest. Free speech and all that.
    As a form of protest, the T-shirt was quite good as it triggered a public display of precisely what was being protested against.

    “tasked with keeping you & your family from blowing up”
    They should stick to that task and do it professionally.
    Getting butt-hurt is just juvenile.
    Expressing their butt-hurt by abusing the power that is given to them to do what they are actually tasked to do should be a sacking offence.

    “Don’t do it in their house.”
    It’s not their house. It’s everybody’s house.

  31. Nick & Gene –

    Totally appreciate the kind words. And Gene is right – I likely was a hair tilted toward the grumpy-pub yesterday.

    In order to retain my medical license, I must do the required number of 24-hour shifts on an active EMS unit each year.

    And the Weds. shift was a particularly depressing rendition of life in our smelting pot. The things we do to each other are appalling.

    The moral of my shift is that if you want better behavior, better take a new tact. So were I king of the world, my edict would be something like this:

    Every city in America must whittle itself down to populations of 10,000 or less. Too many people? Create a new town. You’ve got 5 years to make it work. No more monster-metro human zoos.

    No more than 2 cars per family.

    Zero population growth per family.

    No town may touch any other town. Cornfields and strawberries in between.

    Eliminate states. Re-structure counties. Each city runs itself.

    No mega-banks. All banking to remain regional.

    Disband 50% of the federal government responsibility over 10 years.

    No politician may run for office between 8a-5pm.

    No military action may be taken by the President. Congress alone makes this decision.

    Any congress man or woman voting for military action must send two family members to the front lines to work in some capacity.

    Citizens may move freely between towns and settle among like-minded residents.

    But they relinquish the right to insist that any city be exactly like any other city. Some towns allow children; some won’t.

    Citizens will naturally migrate toward like-groups, and have the right to exclude non-like-minded citizens.

    Towns must take care of their own citizens.

    You don’t like your town? Apply for citizenship in another town.

    No town may have more than one Taco Bell.

    It is perfectly legal to own the same kind of gun the Founding Fathers owned, as long as you are also a member of a well-regulated militia.

    Each city will erect a guillotine in the town square.

    Every city will post a sign listing 100 crimes. Some of these crimes may result in beheading.

    Don’t tell anyone what they are.

    Once a year, chop the worst criminal in town’s head off.

  32. SlingTrebuchet’s response to the statement, “Don’t do it in their house.”

    “It’s not their house. It’s everybody’s house.”

    No, actually, I’d say a ‘house’ belongs to the tiny few who can legally pull a weapon.

    And at an airport, that line’s already been drawn.

  33. patric, I like your list except for last few. not sure that zero kids will work. no more than one per couple will gradually reduce the number of people. As China learned, one per couple is ok unless they decide only sons. It becomes a problem when the son wants a wife. Of course, it won’t be long before all males will not have enough sperm to do the job due to the pollution, but they can still try.

  34. Bettykath said:

    ” Not sure that zero kids will work. no more than one per couple will gradually reduce the number of people.”

    BettyK –

    Zero population growth would be – I think I recall – something like 2.1 kids per mom. Not zero kids. And since some couples opt for no kids, others could legally have 3 whole ones.

    And that part about seriously reducing the number of people?

    That’s the whole idea.

    Simple question: If we can’t properly prepare a plain ‘ol Thanksgiving dinner without knowing how many of our clan will be there, why on earth do we expect cities, states, feds, schools & hospitals to somehow divi up the goodies and make it all work?

    We are reaching critical mass, and the status quo ain’t gonna get it.

  35. Suggested reading: “The Persistence of Vision” by John Varley.

    How pleasant Patric’s utopian thoughts are. A bit draconian in some terms. Reminds me of a frieze in the
    National Museum here. Shows the soon to be execution of a Viking king at the “midvinter blot” to assure his people’s welfare. Wondering of course whose head will roll at the end of Patric’s year.

    Lastly, why are doctors subjected to routine torture and expected to save lives? I think it is only 18 hours here.

  36. idealist707 said:

    ” Why are doctors subjected to routine torture and expected to save lives?”

    I’d love to know your definition of routine torture.

    But until then, here’s a quick answer to your question:

    Perhaps when the Nat’l Practitioner Data Bank stops filing 6,000-8,000 new serious physician misbehavior cases each year; mayhaps when the daily death toll of patients unnecessarily killed every day drops below 400 ; indeed, maybe when the number of unnecessary surgeries starts to sag below several hundred thousand per month; maybe then the “torture pendulum” will swing back toward whatever any of us might deem “normal.”

  37. PatricP, good rules, good rules, but I would add two:

    First, with respect to: “Once a year, chop the worst criminal in town’s head off,” I would only do it to him on the first year; subsequent years, doing it would be overkill and would present a logistics problem for the executioner.

    Second, “Once a year, on a day to be decided in advance by the Town Mothers, the unincorporated association of town grammar police shall meet for four consecutive hours to write the death sentence to be read to the town’s worst criminal upon the occasion of his head’s offchopping.”

    Yeah, and don’t tell me I can’t write good legislation, neither. I’ve been trying to do it for these congresspersons for a couple of long decades.

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