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A Department of Justice lawyer is attempting to cover up his slip-up by revealing “sensitive security information” when admitting that TSA searches are the same as those being performed on the Guantanamo detainees. Unlike airline passengers, the prisoners are provided protections from being groped by strangers whereas travelers have no protections from being groped by strangers who work for TSA.

The according to the complaint prisoner searches involve “the guard feels the detainee’s penis, cups the detainee’s testicles, and feels inside the detainee’s crotch”, which is identical to thousands of similar complaints including those of celebrities such as former Miss USA Susie Castillo, CNN Contributor Dana Loesch and US Congressman Francisco Canseco all of whom complained of repeated and intimate fondling of their genitals by TSA screeners.

Unlike travelers, the Guantanamo searches have already been ruled to be excessive and prohibited by a Federal Court and are at the focus of the trial following an appeal of the ruling allowing the abuses to continue while the Government appeals the case.

Undoubtedly the Government interest in defending this practice at Guantanamo extends beyond the conditions at that facility since the ruling by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in July 2013 would clearly impact TSA searches as well as those by Customs and Federal Prisons.

Given the typical incompetence of Federal employees such as DOJ lawyer Edward Himmelfarb, the prospects of a grope-free travel experience and protection of basic human rights may be getting brighter.

Feds: Guantanamo searches not like TSA’s    POLITICO – By JOSH GERSTEIN – 12/13/13

A Justice Department attorney acted Friday to clarify a claim he made in court earlier this week that searches of Guantanamo prisoners heading to meet with their attorneys are comparable to searches the Transportation Security Administration performs of travelers at U.S. airports.

The analogy was offered by DOJ lawyer Edward Himmelfarb Monday as a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments on several lawsuits filed by detainees who complained that new search procedures are too intrusive and discourage them from meeting their lawyers. Detainees and their lawyers say the searches are particularly repugnant to the prisoners because they’re Muslim and the intrusion of their genital areas offends religious commandments regarding modesty.

“As a couple of spokesmen for Guantanamo said in the articles that are in the record, it’s basically like a TSA search at the airport…a supplemental search,” Himmelfarb told the court, according to a recording of the argument. “That’s basically what it is and people fly all the time, including devout Muslims. It’s not as bad as it sounds. The genital area is touched through the clothing with a flat hand, the way the TSA does,” he added.

However, in a letter sent to the court Friday afternoon (and posted here), Himmelfarb said he wished to revise his remarks.

“I would like to clarify that while the search procedures employed at Guantanamo bear some general similarities to patdown procedures employed at airport security checkpoints, the two sets of procedures are not identical. Although the Transportation Security Administration’s patdown procedures cannot be publicly disclosed in detail…they differ in certain key respects from the searches conducted at Guantanamo,” Himmelfarb wrote. “I regret any confusion my statements may have caused.”

An attorney representing Guantanamo prisoners, David Remes, sent the court a letter shortly after the argument, disputing Himmelfarb’s assertion that the search procedure is “not as bad as it sounds.”

“Clients who are willing to see me, or to have calls with me, describe a search procedure that is far more invasive and degrading than the light pat-down passengers get at airports: The guard feels the detainee’s penis, cups the detainee’s testicles, and feels inside the detainee’s crotch,” Remes wrote in his letter

In July, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ordered a halt to the new search procedures. He found the Guantanamo prison commander’s explanation for ordering the changes to the “arbitrary or irrational.” However, the appeals court stayed his order and has allowed the new genital-area searches to continue while the cases are on appeal.

Travelers regularly object to TSA searches as unreasonably intrusive, making it unclear from a public relations perspective whether it would be best for the federal government to suggest that airline passengers and law-of-war detainees at Guantanamo are being treated in similar fashion.

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