Radio talk show host and ardent Homeland Security critic Alex Jones was detained by the TSA at Austin-Bergstrom airport earlier today and threatened with arrest for refusing to take his shoes off at a security checkpoint.
Traveling to New York to appear on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, Jones had already showed his ID as he approached the metal detector. Jones and colleague Rob Dew noticed that a large number of people across all age ranges were not removing their shoes as they walked through the metal detector. The x-ray body scanners were not in use.
As soon as he approached security, Jones was addressed by a TSA screener who said, “Hello Mr. Jones,” indicating that she knew who he was, and immediately ordered him to remove his shoes.
When Jones refused, citing the fact that innumerable other people had not removed their shoes, the TSA screener claimed that only under 12′s and over 75′s were not mandated to remove footwear under TSA policy.
When Jones contested the point, arguing that numerous travelers in their 40′s had not removed their shoes, other TSA agents ordered him to take off his shoes, before Jones was approached by a police officer who immediately got in his face and started threatening him with arrest.
Despite Jones’ protests that he was clearly being discriminated against because he was a known critic of the TSA (the rest of the TSA screeners also knew him by name), the officer growled, “Take your damn shoes off or I’m gonna arrest you.”
Not even giving Jones the option to leave the airport, the cop continued with threats to arrest Jones and prevent him from flying as the radio host threatened to file a lawsuit for civil rights violations.
One of Jones’ primary concerns regarding the removal of shoes was the fact that he had caught athletes foot from that very process in another airport years previously, meaning that he now carries a spare pair of socks to change into when he boards the aircraft. Jones emphasized that he was not a “clean freak” but that he never encountered such issues before having to take his shoes off at TSA security.
Eventually agreeing to remove his shoes, Jones then walked towards the metal detector as the cop leaned over to talk to the TSA agents. After Jones had already passed through the metal detector, a ‘beep’ was sounded and TSA agents began laughing. Jones later said it was obvious that TSA screeners had set the metal detector off themselves, possibly by order of the officer, so that they could harass Jones further. Other travelers have reported that TSA agents routinely set off the metal detector themselves in order to manufacture a justification for further harassment.
The officer continued to detain Jones as he talked to other cops. Despite the officer seemingly wanting to take further action, TSA management, presumably aware of the potential scandal that could ensue, said they were happy to let Jones go on his way.
Jones is now considering a civil rights lawsuit against the TSA for discrimination. As we have previously documented, journalists who are critical of the TSA are routinely targeted for harassment.
CNN reporter Drew Griffin was put on a TSA watch list immediately after he filed reports critical of the organization back in 2008. Conservative radio host and Breitbart Editor Dana Loesch is also habitually groped by TSA screeners whenever she travels.
Following the national opt out day protest in 2010, the TSA was forced to admit that it had kept records on Alex Jones and Matt Drudge, another prominent TSA critic, but refused to release details even after a FOIA request by former Congressman Bob Barr.
Video of the entire confrontation was recorded and will be added to this story later.