Monday, November 29, 2010

Body scanners and the new pat-down procedures – How much must we go through to take an airplane?

In October 2010, The Transportation Security Administration phased in (quietly) a new pat-down procedure.

Since then, the “ACLU has received over 900 complaints from travelers in the United States about the TSA's new pat-downs, providing a unique vantage point on what is taking place at airports around the nation. These complaints came from men, women and children who reported feeling humiliated and traumatized by these searches, and, in some cases, comparing their psychological impact to sexual assaults."

Here are some excerpts from travelers' complaints (taken from this link):

“The TSA agent used her hands to feel under and between my breasts. She then rammed her hand up into my crotch until it jammed into my pubic bone.”
“I cried throughout the groping and have had intrusive thoughts since. It was humiliating.”
“The procedure was violating, degrading, invasive and humiliating.”
“It was so rough that I felt the effects of it throughout the day.”
“I do not feel safer. I feel violated.”

For other examples of graphic and perturbing descriptions of what some people have issued complaints about, you can read more here.

From reading many of these complaints, it is very clear that the new pat-down measures basically equate to molestation and sexual assault. I find it very disconcerting that not only is this currently legal, but that people are paid to do this to people all day.

Let’s remember, though, that there is supposed to be another option prior to the invasive pat-downs: going through the “body scanner.” These scanners were initially thought to be low-resolution images with blurred out portions. It turns out, however, that the images are in fact very high resolution, and not only does the scanner have health hazards, but there are no blurred out portions, and the security officer can see… everything. If you don’t believe me, you can read the following two articles (but be forewarned that there are explicit images obtained from the scanners in those articles): “Full-body scanner cannot replace diplomacy but imposes indecency on billions. Law says indecent exposure is crime, doesn't it?” and “Leaked Body Scanner Images Do Not Show The Whole Picture." And what’s more? These images are actually saved on their computers…which is how some of those images have been leaked out to the press.

Thoughts? Comments? Interested in signing a petition?


  1. While the new pat-downs are creating an outrage, they're necessary. Terrorism is a greater threat than offending someone about patting them down.

  2. How are they necessary? Terrorists will always find new ways to evade the current security practices.

    And this is a far greater issue than simply "offending" someone. It's sexual assault.

  3. The scanners are likely not effective:,8599,1951529,00.html

  4. After reading the article posted above, I'm not sure that the whole point was that the scanners are likely not effective.... the article shows both sides and addresses concerns from either side as well.

    Obviously there is always going to be someone who finds a way to get past everything (and I can't argue that these new procedures will protect us from everything), but as the people who can harm us get more creative, shouldn't security also take new measures? If the way people are terrorizing is changing, shouldn't the way we protect ourselves also change?

  5. The ironic thing is that while the purpose of the scanners is to fight terrorism, the American people are being terrorized by them. Triggering flashbacks, humiliating pat downs, and sexual assaults are terrorizing our people. I understand that terrorism is an enormous concern, as it should be, but I refuse to accept these measures as anti-terrorist efforts after seeing the effects.