Not-so-secure security with new TSA procedures

Backscatter scanners, aggressive pat-downs give us a false sense of security when the terrorists have already won by making us afraid

Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

As a gay man, I have been groped before. In fact, it used to be hard to get a drink in a gay bar without getting a few “friendly contacts.”

Was it welcome? Not always. Did I feel violated? Not really; it came with the territory.

So that said, how would I feel about being groped by a blue-gloved Transportation Security agent? Violated!

First and foremost, the new security procedures being added to current screenings are ineffective. Recently, a German TV show demonstrated clearly how the exact chemicals used in the infamous “underwear bomb” could be walked through the full-body scanners without detection.

Additionally, the whole “three bottles with no more than three ounces in a plastic bag” ruse does nothing to prevent high-powered explosive components from being brought through screening. That same TV segment showed how these passed right through the scanner and X-ray with no notice.

Three bottles of three ounces of chemicals were plenty to create a roaring incendiary bomb with sufficient heat to burn through the metal fry pan holding it.

The whole security screening is more for us than for security. It makes us feel like the TSA and the government are doing something to protect us. It is more theater than security — and now it’s getting really personal.

The companies that make the scanners have sold the TSA and the government the bill of goods that these invasive X-ray machines are foolproof. They aren’t.

They also have tried to convince us that they are not an invasion of privacy. Well, they are, Blanche; they are.

We have been told the image of your naked body is being viewed by some anonymous person upstairs at the airport who supposedly will not share the image with anyone. Gizmodo, a high-tech online site, already obtained more than 100 images stored improperly by U.S. marshals in Orlando. Perhaps they would make nice greeting cards?

We have been told the scanners pose no health threat. However, if you travel frequently or are part of an airline crew, you get exposed to the radiation from these scanners over and over — and the jury is out on that.

Back in April, faculty members at the University of California, San Francisco, sent a letter expressing their concerns about possible health risks related to the backscatter X-ray scanners to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

So if you opt for a “pat down” from a TSA agent, which is your right if you decide you don’t want to go through the scanner, you get a not-so-delicate, full-body grope, sans happy ending. That’s where I get back to the whole violated thing.

Standard procedure is male agents pat down men and female agents pat down women. What about gay men and lesbians? Do we get a choice?

And even more to the point, what about someone who is transgender? It really gets difficult and becomes a clear invasion of privacy when you have to explain that the agent might not find the same anatomy they are expecting to find.

Again it’s an indignity, and just plain unnecessary.

I know we all want to be safe when flying, but if our line of defense is a group of poorly trained and underpaid folks wearing plastic gloves, we are already on shaky ground. According to many security experts, if the terrorists get to the airport, it’s too late anyway.

So speaking of terrorists, I feel pretty sure I will get a lot of flack from people asking me if I “want the terrorists to win?” Well, here is the stark truth: They already have won.

Their intent is not so much killing and destruction but terror. Look at our laws and how a small group of radicals managed to scare us into passing the Patriot Act and dozens of other measures that supposedly provide security at the expense of freedom.

Even the dastardly crime of 9/11, though it was spectacular, was far less deadly than the yearly total of deaths of innocent Americans through automobile accidents. Yet we have no “war on driving,” or even common sense safety reform for cars and roadways.

Why? Because that doesn’t terrify us. We falsely believe that we are safe in our cars and on our roadways, but get cold sweats every time we board a plane.
If that isn’t a triumph for the terrorists I don’t know what is.

Do I believe we should have no security at all? No, absolutely we should. But it should be balanced with our fundamental right to not be photographed in the nude or groped in the airport.

It’s time we stopped letting equipment manufacturers guide our security precautions and start actually weighing the risks and evaluating the practical measures that can reduce them.

If you actually believe these invasive searches are needed, why not just go the “full monty” and issue bathrobes to all passengers? Then we and we can all fly naked.

Oh yes, and then there is that whole cavity search thing. Now that might actually make flying fun again!

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Gay porn actor DJ Veritas jailed on murder charge

TAMARA LUSH  |  Associated Press Writer

NEW PORT RICHEY, Florida — Jason Andrews was a bisexual Chicago DJ with a British accent, whose chiseled jaw and good looks landed him roles in countless gay porn videos. Amanda Logue was a married, bleach-blond Georgia woman who once owned a lingerie shop, dabbled in prostitution and starred in several X-rated videos herself.

Together, they stabbed and bludgeoned a 41-year-old tattoo shop owner to death with a sledgehammer — and hatched some of their plans in typo- and expletive-laden text messages, Florida detectives said.

“I’m so glad you’re really commited to this take. Keep eyes for a knife, etc for me!” Andrews typed on his BlackBerry hours before the slaying, according to a transcript of the messages included in court records.

Logue replied in a nearly incomprehensible text that she was excited — and she wanted to have sex after they killed him.

Nearly two months after Dennis “Scooter” Abrahamsen was found dead in his Tampa-area home, Logue and Andrews were indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder charges. Logue is being held without bail at a Florida jail — her attorney didn’t return calls for comment — and Andrews was arrested Thursday, July 15 in Tennessee.

Andrews was arrested by U.S. Marshals and the Chattanooga Police Department after working for several weeks as a manager at the Chattanooga Billiard Club, an upscale pool hall and cigar lounge.

“I would say he was very surprised. He was very clean cut, broad shoulders, dressed in a suit, not in a suit and tie, but more ‘Miami Vice,’ more of a GQ appearance,” said Paul Salayko, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.

He is jailed in Tennessee until he can be extradited to Florida. Authorities did not yet know if he had a lawyer.

Police in Florida say the pair killed Abrahamsen in the early morning of May 15 and swiped $6,000 cash, his credit cards and a video camera. Abrahamsen had hired Logue — whose porn name is “Sunny Dae” — to work at a sex party at his house, and police said that’s when Logue and Andrews set him up. They traded dozens of text messages about their homicidal plan, police said.

According to an affidavit, Logue would later deny that she had anything to do with the killing and claim Andrews was the one who bludgeoned Abrahamsen.

“Logue told (the detective) that Andrews grabbed the back of her hair then twisted her arm behind her back. Andrews forced her to view Abrahamsen’s crushed skull and told her that’s what would happen to her if she told anyone.”

Logue and Andrews met on the set of a porn video late last year and fell in love — even though Logue was married to a man in Georgia, authorities and friends said. Her husband did not return phone calls from The Associated Press.

Andrews’ Chicago friends find it difficult to believe he was involved in the killing. The 27-year-old Andrews was known in that city as DJ Veritas, and his Facebook and MySpace pages feature several video clips of him playing techno music in large clubs.

“He was a really straight up dude,” said Michael Sarkowicz, a Chicago club photographer.

The 28-year-old Logue seemed like a decent person, said Kristen Cameron, a Florida-based model who met her last year. According to several profiles on modeling websites, Logue did bikini and fetish modeling.

“She was professional, prompt and seemed all around normal, well so I thought,” Cameron wrote in an e-mail to the AP. “She was nice to me and was a great model! I felt a connection to her since we both have southern backgrounds.”

But Cameron’s opinion changed this spring when she saw how Logue acted around Andrews, her new boyfriend.

“Amanda wasn’t the Amanda I knew,” Cameron wrote. “She wouldn’t talk, all she did was text with Jason.”

Andrews, Cameron said, was obnoxious and brash. He often bragged about his military service, of which Cameron was skeptical.

In April and May, according to their Twitter accounts, Logue and Andrews spent several weeks in Florida, shooting porn videos, lolling on the beach and professing their love for each other. Photos on Logue’s Facebook show the pair grinning and hugging.

On May 14, Andrews posted a link to a pornographic photo of Logue and wrote on his Twitter account: “therealsunnydae and I are killing time waiting for a party to find us!”

The next day, detectives said, Abrahamsen hired Logue to have sex on camera during a party at his house. During the party, Logue texted her boyfriend several times, witnesses told investigators.

Text messages retrieved from Andrews’ BlackBerry show the couple discussed vinyl gloves, when other guests would leave Abrahamsen’s home and what was inside a safe.

According to an affidavit, everyone at the party left Abrahamsen’s home around 5 a.m. May 15 — except for Logue. Andrews waited outside in his car, still texting her.

“Just get him on his face either bash or tell me to get in and. Where to go.” Andrews wrote.

“K I’m horny! I’m getting him to play music,” Logue typed.

“Wicked. Ill just be waiting. Really. Take. Your. Time,” Andrews replied.

Abrahamsen was found dead in his house by a family member some 18 hours later, face down on a massage table with blood splattered on the walls and ceiling fan. Authorities have not officially disclosed a motive for the killling.

At 4:29 p.m. on May 16 — less than a day after the murder — Logue wrote on her Twitter account, using Andrews’ Twitter name “Hearveritas:” “Taking it easy with hearveritas! Laying around eating popcorn and watching movies!”

At 5:20 p.m., Andrews tweeted: “therealsunnydae and I wanna go watch a movie tonight, any suggestion?”

As detectives pieced together the slaying, Logue and Andrews were arrested May 18 in a neighboring county after trying to use Abrahamsen’s credit card at Home Depot.

But officials didn’t have enough evidence to link the pair to the killing, and released them. On May 19, she went home to her husband and child in Georgia.

On May 21, Andrews wrote on his Twitter account in Hebrew: “Amanda please let me know when you are ok, really. My heart can’t take the weight of the fear that I would never see you again.”

It’s unclear whether Logue ever saw Andrews’ plea, or whether she replied to him. On May 26, she was arrested in Georgia and taken to a Florida jail, where she awaits trial.

—  John Wright