Dana Vachon Made to Delete TwitPic of Islamic Screener at JFK by TSA Guard

And this is how your weekday starts, not with a bang, but with a New York City author taking a picture of an Islamic TSA screener, and being asked to delete it by them.

"I was just made to delete an iPhone picture of a bearded Islamic security guard at JFK," the Tweets start. NYC The Blog catches this first, watching Mergers & Acquisitions novelist Dana Vachon -- who has a very entertaining Twitter, and typically, a mildly fictionalized one -- as he Tweets out that he was standing in line at JFK when he saw what appeared to be a bearded Islamic TSA screener ("He had Middle Eastern coloring, a beard with no mustache, wore a skullcap."), and took a picture. A TSA officer apparently approached Vachon, and told him to delete it "under threat of police action and confiscation; 'Call me officer,' he said."

  • TSA made me delete the picture, and threatened to call the police when I refused.
  • When I asked what law allowed them to censor pictures none was cited, and I was asked if I supported the "battle" against terrorism.
  • The TSA guard was a young, bearded Islamic man, and the picture, to me, embodied the glorious ridiculousness of post-9/11 life.
  • A TSA manager asked why I wanted the picture; I told her one day people would want to know how we lived in 2010 l, and I hoped to show them.
  • The manager noted alcohol on my breath, I told her I was not drunk but had a dinner party last night, to my knowledge this was not illegal.
  • When I asked the guard to cite the law allowing summary deletion of photos he threatened to confiscate my phone.
  • The manager asked why I wanted such a photo, seemed paranoid; I asked her to please tell me the law allowing deletion of photos, she failed.
  • I then told her that when rights of images and speeches are infringed upon dark things tend to follow, citing Stalin and Hitler.
  • It was obscene, I felt like the father in Amarcord. And they never cited the law that allows them to make you delete photos.
Dana Vachon Made to Delete TwitPic of Islamic Screener at JFK by TSA Guard

NYC The Blog's Paolo Mastrangelo Tweeted at Vachon to ensure that he wasn't kidding, and apparently, per Vachon, this isn't a joke, and also per Vachon, not all the photos he took were deleted, as you can see to your left (click to enlarge).

The TSA is now making people delete TwitPics taken at the airport, which is -- as Vachon pointed out -- slightly disturbing. We'll be following up with the TSA and New York City Port Authority officials to find out if there is indeed a law preventing Manhattan novelists from documenting their trips through security, or if Vachon's rights were totally shit all over this morning sometime before most of us had exercised the right to have breakfast. Stay tuned.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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