Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Can you imagine 50 people a day, I said 50 people a day? Friends, they may think its a movement.
November 10, 2010 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Nov. 24 is National Opt-out Day from airport back-scatter scanners Time to call BS on TSA's kabuki theater of airport security: "As public anger grows over the TSA's body scanners and intrusive new airport pat-down procedure, a Web site is urging travelers to "opt out" from the body scanners and instead choose to have a pat-down in public view, so that everyone can "see for themselves how the government treats law-abiding citizens." OptOutDay.com declares November 24 to be the day when air travelers should refuse to submit to a full body scan and choose the enhanced pat-down -- an option many travelers have described as little short of a molestation."
posted by TDIpod (395 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Singled out by the TSA, Cuffed to a Chair, Her Ticket Ripped up
posted by Flashman at 8:55 PM on November 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


Note to self: do not travel on November 24th, as there will be excessive delays. That is all.
posted by davejay at 8:58 PM on November 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Apart from the bullying mentioned by Flashman above, I'm not sure why this is just a one day thing. From November 25, everyone's meant to acquiese to this pointless charade?
posted by pompomtom at 9:00 PM on November 10, 2010


Semi-related on the green. Which is to say: there are worse ideas than this.
posted by supercres at 9:01 PM on November 10, 2010


also, as I submit to the pat-down when I fly tomorrow, Friday, and over the Christmas holiday, I fully intend to make a hold eye contact with the person who has to touch my genitals, with a huge shit-eating grin on my face. Damned if I'm going to be the one feeling uncomfortable.
posted by davejay at 9:01 PM on November 10, 2010 [41 favorites]


Thoughts:

1) So glad I'm not flying this Thanksgiving. It's slow enough waiting for people to take off their shoes.
2) As nice as it would be to have some mass "protest" like this, I bet only, like, four people are actually going to do it. I can easily see someone being all, "yeah, I'm gonna stick it to the man today! Woo! Oh, oh, ok, um, liquids, plastic baggie, laptop, ok, uh"--and then suddenly they're standing there in the scanner thinking, "oh man, I'm totally hitting up Starbucks before boarding."
posted by phunniemee at 9:02 PM on November 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Get back to me when every day is opt-out day.
posted by unSane at 9:05 PM on November 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is clearly the most important... you know...

"see for themselves how the government treats law-abiding citizens."

I never knew until I saw it at the jetport! Wow, our liberties are... wait...
posted by setanor at 9:05 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good luck, America.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:06 PM on November 10, 2010


Oh, one more thing: viewing the images here, it seems like November 24th should be "wear multiple layers of constricting, thick undergarmets" day, to render the relevant areas as unrevealing as possible, and to make patdown intimacy as non-invasive as possible.

Patdown Intimacy is a terrible band name
posted by davejay at 9:08 PM on November 10, 2010


or at least make the hook 'em horns so you make the TSA guy/gal laugh
posted by davejay at 9:09 PM on November 10, 2010


Can someone clue me in as to why one could not avoid both scanner and pat down if, say, one wore a pair of easy-to-remove trousers/skirt and partially disrobed for a direct visual inspection?

I suppose embarrassment might not be avoided, but subjection to a data-producing and -storing device may.
posted by mistersquid at 9:10 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Do you mean, like, tear-away stripper pants?

Coz that we be dope.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:12 PM on November 10, 2010 [13 favorites]


this is all i have to add
posted by phaedon at 9:14 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I could see a wrap dress working for that purpose, mistersquid.
posted by amethysts at 9:14 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, the good news is that the terrorists won't hate us for our freedoms anymore.
posted by Malor at 9:14 PM on November 10, 2010 [60 favorites]


It is not the Backscatter Terrorist Assement Tool!

It's Pornoscan.

And of you refuse a pornoscan, you get the gropomatic.

Once you get the puritanical white people convinced that the pornoscan imbues the victim with the essence of Communist Satan the Muslim Socialist, they'll be ripped out of the airports before you can say "Don't Tread on me!" or "OMG a SNAKE!"
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:17 PM on November 10, 2010 [19 favorites]


Right there with ya, davejay. I'll be doing my best to blow a load in their hand. Loudly.
posted by davelog at 9:20 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you mean, like, tear-away stripper pants?

Or Bucks Fizz' 1981 Eurovision Song Contest winner (warning: may cause irreversible brain damage).
posted by unSane at 9:21 PM on November 10, 2010


how the government treats law-abiding citizens

What does "law-abiding citizen" mean? I can't think of anyone who abides by all of the laws that apply to them.
posted by The World Famous at 9:21 PM on November 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


it seems like November 24th should be "wear multiple layers of constricting, thick undergarmets" day, to render the relevant areas as unrevealing as possible, and to make patdown intimacy as non-invasive as possible.

This is a great idea, and I think I'll do it. Boxer briefs under boxers perhaps?

Or opt for the patdown, and ask loudly how your wenis compares to others the agent has felt that day.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:21 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can I just go through airport security naked, making both of my options pretty redundant, or would I get arrested for that, too?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:26 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I feel a little inadequate, but mostly I'm just grateful that I haven't had a reason to fly in the United States since September 2001. I'm sure it'll be an extraordinarily fun experience when I do finally rejoin the airborne herd, but for now I just sit back and laugh at the ridiculousness I keep reading about.
posted by mediareport at 9:28 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have half a mind to fly somewhere cheap just for the free groping.

Are you allowed to exit the security area at will, then normally re-enter via the screening queue? I figure if I exit and re-enter about a dozen times and opt out of the scanners each time I might be able to manage an hour long massage for the price of a cheap plane ticket.

Also, a message to the TSA: You really don't want me to remove my boots. I will if you insist. I don't really care. But it's probably in the best interests of the TSA, the airport, the travelers in the airport, any endangered species nearby, the air quality management district, environmental agencies and hazmat response teams of whatever city I'm in that I don't.
posted by loquacious at 9:28 PM on November 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


Is any of the outrage over the pornoscans making it into the mainstream psyche?
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:29 PM on November 10, 2010


Oops, I should read the whole thread before posting.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:30 PM on November 10, 2010


I emailed the national ACLU about the pornoscanners/grope-a-thon last week, and they (well, the PR drone) replied that it was a state-level issue. I know one organization can't fight every battle, but this seems like a big one to sit out.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, on the other hand, is in court to reverse the TSA's authoritarian masquerade. Go get 'em, EPIC!
posted by slab_lizard at 9:36 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


LA Times: Groups protest new airport pat-down technique, more body scanners

American Airlines Pilots in Revolt Against the TSA

Full-Body Airport Scanners May Not Have Thwarted Alleged Christmas Day Bomber, GAO Says

Mother Jones: The Airport Scanner Scam

Washington Post: Ex-Homeland Security chief head said to abuse public trust by touting body scanners

"Since the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff has given dozens of media interviews touting the need for the federal government to buy more full-body scanners for airports. What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines. "

The TSA and the full-body-scanner lobby

Petition to suspend Full Body Scanners (PDF)

Unredacted TSA manual released by Wikileaks

Dr David Brenner, head of Columbia University's centre for radiological research, said although the danger posed to the individual passenger is 'very low', he is urging researchers to carry out more tests on the device to look at the way it affects specific groups who could be more sensitive to radiation.

New scanners break child porn laws

Citizen journalist Michael Yon: "No country has ever treated me so badly. Not China. Not Vietnam. Not Afghanistan. Definitely not Singapore or India or Nepal or Germany, not Brunei, not Indonesia, or Malaysia, or Kuwait or Qatar or United Arab Emirates. No county has treated me with the disrespect can that can be expected from our border bullies."

YouTube:
TSA Discriminates against disabled people then violates rights to privacy

TSA Agent Arrested - "I am God... I'm in charge!"

Story about the new pat-down techniques
posted by thescientificmethhead at 9:36 PM on November 10, 2010 [48 favorites]


Sometimes I feel a little inadequate, but mostly I'm just grateful that I haven't had a reason to fly in the United States since September 2001.

To be fair, while I loathe the hideous and pointless security theater, I've flown dozens upon dozens of times to the US since then and the only serious problem I've had was when some immigration drone decided I was trying to work in the US as oppose to fly in for client meetings.

In my experience things have recently improved markedly. I don't know if it's better TSA training or what but the lines move faster, the employees are better humoured and better at explaining, and so on. I will certainly refuse a bodyscan, in part just to see what happens, but in my experience treating the minimum wage TSA guys badly is a total waste of your time and theirs; they're perfectly aware of how you feel and can do nothing to change what they are asked to do.

For various reasons I'm one of those guys who's retina-scanned and fingerprinted almost every time I enter the US. It makes me want to puke and I always weigh the cost/benefit of having to go to the States, so it's not like I'm in favour of this stuff.

One thing I am REALLY tired of is the TSA going through your bags, though. They never repack properly, they take pointless stuff out, and so on.

Fortunately the USAs budget woes will ultimately solved by firing the TSA and all it's relations out of a high-velocity cannon, so we can only hope we're still alive to see it.
posted by unSane at 9:41 PM on November 10, 2010


TSA: Touchin', Squeezin', Arrestin'
posted by bwg at 9:45 PM on November 10, 2010 [35 favorites]


List of US (and selected international) airports with full body scanners.

Unfortunately, it doesn't include the terminals. Thankfully SFO only has one in the international terminal at present.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:47 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's going to be an interesting day.
posted by wv kay in ga at 9:48 PM on November 10, 2010


I am actually flying to Alaska on the 24th. And I'm gonna do it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:49 PM on November 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


As a wheelchair user, I get patted down every time I go through security (which, for the past 5-6 years, has been at least twice every 2-3 months). Patdowns as they're done at the airport are useless. I was intrigued when I saw on Mefi recently that they were getting more serious - using the front of the hands rather than the back for all areas of the body, rather than switching to the back to check your groin, and feeling higher up in the crotch than previously - but my last flight between DCA and BOS was the same token gesture it's always been.

I'm still tempted every time to offer to strip, just to make a point, but I doubt I ever will.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:50 PM on November 10, 2010


I emailed the national ACLU about the pornoscanners/grope-a-thon last week, and they (well, the PR drone) replied that it was a state-level issue.

The ACLU plays the Federalism card as an excuse for inaction. That's rich.

Citizen journalist Michael Yon: "No country has ever treated me so badly. Not China. Not Vietnam. Not Afghanistan. Definitely not Singapore or India or Nepal or Germany, not Brunei, not Indonesia, or Malaysia, or Kuwait or Qatar or United Arab Emirates.

The guy has apparently lived a charmed life. Or maybe he was treated well in those countries because he was an embedded reporter with the U.S. military. TSA's security theater is offensive and appalling. But Michael Yon describing it in those terms makes him sound naive more than it makes TSA sound like nazis.
posted by The World Famous at 9:52 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dunno, TWF, how much have you travelled? USA's border experience is among the worst in the world.
posted by unSane at 9:58 PM on November 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


I wonder how much it is to fly from LAX to Burbank (or vice versa) on 11/24…
posted by klangklangston at 10:05 PM on November 10, 2010


Scans of famous and/or underage people are going to end up in circulation, it's only a matter of time. And I hope they sue the ever loving snot out of TSA and the US government over it too. It's a ridiculous violation of privacy and nothing more than a money making exercise for defense corporations and contractors.

I guess with real estate and banking in the toilet the wealthy need some kind of growth industry to invest in. Fear mongering is as good as any.
posted by fshgrl at 10:09 PM on November 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


I dunno, TWF, how much have you travelled? USA's border experience is among the worst in the world.

I've traveled enough to have been held at machine gun point for no apparent reason on more than one occasion. U.S.A.'s border experience is absolutely not among the worst in the world. The U.S. border experience sucks. But it's no Guatemala/Mexico border experience, for example.
posted by The World Famous at 10:10 PM on November 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


How much do these machines cost and who authorized it? Is the press investigating this and pushing out FOIAs, or is it just lazy journalism as usual?
posted by amuseDetachment at 10:10 PM on November 10, 2010


Nope. $238. Just not funny enough for $238.
posted by klangklangston at 10:12 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The worst border crossing experience I ever had was at Gatwick. But I wasn't a UK citizen and I was flying in from Schiphol.

I used to love traveling by plane and now I'll do anything to avoid it. I'm glad all of my family lives in the state - I'd rather drive 280 miles on 11/24 than be groped by a TSA employee.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:16 PM on November 10, 2010


Nope. $238. Just not funny enough for $238.

You don't actually have to fly anywhere, do you? Couldn't you just find the cheapest ticket possible for that day, check in, go through security, and then go home? Or is that not allowed?
posted by The World Famous at 10:18 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks, Dubya. You fucking clown.
posted by Ratio at 10:25 PM on November 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know the pornoscanners great and all but sooner or later the terrorists are going to take a cue from drug mules and swallow multiple capsules of remote controlled c4 or go to their doctor who will implant a large amount in their chest cavity.

They are killing themselves anyways so why not detonate the explosive inside their body?

At that point you can all expect to be scanned by hard x-rays on the way through the airport.

Awesome.
posted by dibblda at 10:27 PM on November 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


I opted out just a week ago. I got a dirty look and the comment, "Now why'd you have to go do that for?" When I said I wasn't comfortable with the image the machine makes the guy told me it wasn't what I thought it was. Rather than argue I went with the joking 'I don't even like having my picture taken'. Basically, it boiled down to me being expected to defend my opt-out for a few minutes while the lady gloved up to pat me down.

This was at about 10:30 am on a Tuesday, at a small airport with almost no line. I can't even imagine how much shit would be flipped were it actually busy.

In other words, I fully endorse this protest. I actually do wish I were flying on the 24th, even though it took a little bit of effort for me to swallow my discomfort at being mildly verbally harassed for exercising one of my rights.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:40 PM on November 10, 2010 [16 favorites]


If you want really detailed information about whether you will be subject to the pornoscanners, Flyertalk has a thread open that specifies both airport and which gate has it implemented (and how to avoid it altogether in some airports) which is continually updated.
posted by amuseDetachment at 10:42 PM on November 10, 2010 [15 favorites]


So is November 25th going to be National Post Bail Day? I mean, I'm all for it, but isn't one of the joys of the poorly defined role of the TSA that they can essentially bust anyone, anywhere, anytime, for doing just about anything? I mean, look how ridiculous actual, organized street protests are getting, and how many trumped up charges there are for things like that, just for being on the same street. In an airport? Best of luck.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:09 PM on November 10, 2010


So...I flew for the first time in a few years last week and I was expecting the worst with regards to the scanning and groping and whatnot.

Both my departure and return airports had backscatter machines in operation, with people using them. Somehow -- and I'm still not sure how -- I was waved through the regular metal detector by TSA agents at both airports. No pornoscan and no molestation.

It's a minor data point at best, but I'm still confused by the experience when I read that those are the only choices.
posted by nayrb5 at 11:09 PM on November 10, 2010


It would be cheaper and safer to just go back to taking our chances with the occasional hijacking.
posted by bardic at 11:11 PM on November 10, 2010 [20 favorites]


The screening area in major airports is also as densely packed as any 747. If bombers attacked one of those lines, or a bus, or subway, or any other crowded space it would be even more terrifying: no place would feel safe. This is exactly what they do in every other nation they strike. Yet when it comes to the USA, Al-Qaeda is putting all their chips on our civilian jets and doubling down.

It's as if they're colluding with the airport security state. Maybe terror is not the point all.

If they want to be really smart they can start wait until every US airport has backscatter scanners in every checkpoint and then start sinking ferrys and cruiseliners. Maybe that's the plan!
posted by clarknova at 11:18 PM on November 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


With regards to the opt-out protest, I have this to say:
Do it. Do it hard.

I'm an American citizen. the borders I've crossed include: Canada, UK, France, Greece, Chile, Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia, and the US. The US was by far the worst of the bunch. I also fully endorse Brazil's exclusive fingerprinting of American citizens as a retaliatory act for US fingerprinting of everyone else.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:36 PM on November 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yet when it comes to the USA, Al-Qaeda is putting all their chips on our civilian jets and doubling down.

That's the incredibly silly TSA assumption, anyway.
posted by Vetinari at 11:45 PM on November 10, 2010


I emailed the national ACLU about the pornoscanners/grope-a-thon last week, and they (well, the PR drone) replied that it was a state-level issue. I know one organization can't fight every battle, but this seems like a big one to sit out.

Looks like they haven't ruled anything out.
posted by cmonkey at 11:54 PM on November 10, 2010


It would be cheaper and safer to just go back to taking our chances with the occasional hijacking.

David Foster Wallace postulated the same idea. He wrote a pretty good op-ed about it back in 07.
posted by hellojed at 12:06 AM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a wheelchair user, I get patted down every time I go through security.

What if you went through in one of those Captain Pike-style mobile life support systems?
posted by Ritchie at 12:42 AM on November 11, 2010


"As nice as it would be to have some mass "protest" like this, I bet only, like, four people are actually going to do it. I can easily see someone being all, "yeah, I'm gonna stick it to the man today! Woo! Oh, oh, ok, um, liquids, plastic baggie, laptop, ok, uh"--and then suddenly they're standing there in the scanner thinking, "oh man, I'm totally hitting up Starbucks before boarding."
posted by phunniemee at 3:02 PM on November 11

Back in 2005, I went to the Brisbane domestic airport with my new girlfriend (now my wife) to see off a friend. We went through security, as one must do when one wishes to enter the waiting area. After we underwent a rigorous screening process there, we were allowed inside the waiting area. However, we got no more than a few steps when an airport security woman walked up to us and asked my girlfriend to come over to a table nearby. She did so, and her friend and I followed.

As it turned out, our benevolent conservative Government of the day had introduced a new security policy where every so often, some random schlub gets picked to be screened for trace elements of explosive materials. During the search, they scan you with a swizzle stick and there is, as the paper the woman gave my girlfriend said, some 'light physical contact involved with the search.' You can refuse to be searched, but if you do, you will be escorted off of airport grounds. My girlfriend agreed to undergo the search, and as it was being conducted, I decided to make an off the cuff comment saying that the government's security measures were getting, and I quote myself here, "a bit draconian." My girlfriends friend responded, saying that the woman was only doing her job. Aware that I might have caused undue offense, I said to the security woman "I want you to understand you're not what I have a problem with... I understand you're just a tool of the oppressors. I just have a problem with the policy."

I was prepared to leave it at that. But the security woman, quite loudly and perhaps even a bit angrily, says "I have a problem with people blowing people up." I responded by saying "Yes, I have a problem with that too. But in how many years of flying have trace elements of explosive materials actually resulted in a plane going down? There has to be a point where our personal liberties and rights stop getting trampled on." And the security woman, again loudly and angrily, says "Yeah? At what point is that???"

I would have responded except my girlfriend was walking away, a touch embarrassed and a little frustrated with my causing a scene, so I just walked away and said "I'll tell you later." While it wasn't intended to become a scene (the security woman did escalate the whole affair), it was nonetheless a whole lot of fun. I admit the "tool of the oppressors" thing was a bit over the top, but I'm someone who believes in privacy and personal rights and has done for most of his adult life, so I was probably a little worked up over the whole thing... as I explained to my angry girlfriend, who was kind enough to understand and, eventually, marry me.

Anyway, cut to yesterday, where I'm reading the story about how the TSA humiliated this woman. Now while Australia, where I live, doesn't have these porno scanners at any of its airports yet (as far as I know), I made a point of saying to my wife that she should know that if the Government ever does decide to introduce these things, and we're flying somewhere and they try to make me go through one of them, she should be prepared to not be flying somewhere that day. She said pretty much the same thing phunniemee said, and I reminded her of that day back in 2005 when I caused a scene over what is essentially someone brushing your private bits with a scanner. She remembered, got angry all over again ("I guess we're never flying anywhere ever again then!" she said) but eventually understood that this is who I am; this liberal schmuck is who she married.

The point of what I'm saying is, we can't let airport security practices take away our freedoms and our personal liberties. Yeah, making sure some nutbag doesn't take down a plane is important, I grant you, but as many others have said before, when we sacrifice our liberties in the name of security, the nutbags have already won.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:49 AM on November 11, 2010 [13 favorites]


So, I think I ought to make clear that my questions in my comment above are just that - questions - and not suggestions of any kind. In fact, I think a protest of this nature is a really bad idea.
posted by The World Famous at 12:55 AM on November 11, 2010


Reddit is planning on taking out a full-page ad in the NYT about this. they are organizing ideas here

this site has a bunch of excerpts from sites like flyertalk about gropings:
In BOS, a male screener told me there was a 'very long wait' for a female screener and it 'would be better' to let him do it. I told him I would wait and that he should put my things where I could see them. He asked me which belt they were on. I was stupid and pointed. He then moved to stand so that I couldn't see the belt at all and kept repeating that it 'would be better' to let him screen me. I told him that if he got one inch closer, I would scream my head off...he backed down and eventually a female came. I tried to file a complaint, but never got any response. A (rather small-busted) friend told me that a male TSA at BOS tried to frisk her, shouting that she couldn't possibly be female. No idea whether it was the same guy or whether she filed a complaint.
...
We were flying from Nashville to Orlando to go to Disney for my son's birthday. My son is 9 years old. Nashville has installed the new backscatter scanners, aka "naked" scanners. Now I am not a modest person and for me myself I don't care. To be honest, I had not given it much thought. We were given no option to opt out of the scans that I could see, no signage or instructions. I later found out you can opt out and choose the pat down instead. Well, we all three went through the machine. Husband and I were fine. They scanned the kid and then informed us they had to pat him down. I asked why, they said he moved. So I am thinking run of the mill pat down, wand over his body and light touch. He is 9 years old for the love of Pete but that was not the case. Had anyone but a physician doing a necessary medical exam touched my child in the places the TSA agent put his hands, I would have filed charges. He groped the inside of his legs and touched his genitals. He put his hands around my son's neck in a choking position, felt all the way down his chest area and his buttocks. He placed his hands inside my son's pants waist band and felt around his waist. The agent was loud and intimidating even for me, a 36 year old women. He barked at him to "hold up your pants" and "spread your legs, shoulder width." All I could think was my son looked like he was being frisked and how humiliating this was for him to be stared at by everyone as they passed by us. Now, this whole scenario was out in the open, we were not given the option of privacy. My son was scared and humiliated. I am not a momma hen or a wacko and we fly regularly and have never minded the security measures needed but this was a shocking experience. Shocking enough for us to forgo air travel (which we have always loved) until these new security rules change and come closer to something akin to reason. And yes, we have contacted the authorities and other to complain about this situation. We also contacted the airline to tell them why we were cancelling and to let them know that these kinds of things will impact their business. To each his own and all are free to travel as they like but I am not convinced treating my child like a prison inmate progressed the cause of national security one iota.
...
Today when flying from Boston Logan to BWI my 17 year old daughter had quite an unpleasant experience due to the new scanner malfunctioning. There was some confusion of whether there was a scan or not. She was told that she needed to submit to a full pat down after being told "it did not scan" . She was told she would need a pat down. Being 17 she had no idea what that meant and how intense a full detailed full body pat down can be. Even when she began to cry, the TSA agent continued the pat down. My daughter felt molested and humiliated and as a parent I was helpless to stop this violation. Also, the gentleman behind her had a full body pat down which leads me to believe the machine was not working for anyone. However his pat down was not as intense as my daughters. My daughter who is a seasoned traveler and even visited Israel this summer has never experienced such extreme searches If they were to have asked her the reason for her visit, as they do in other countries, they would have learned she was no threat and was merely on a college visit to MIT. As a parent, I have serious concerns that such a search would be done on a 17 year old minor.
Sure, if everyone is super-professional about this, then it wouldn't be so bad. But here we have low-paid idiots running around harassing people and then groping them.

In other news a TSA Worker was arrested in FL for molesting a 12 year old girl. Not while on the job but:
After a 15-year-old girl came forward claiming Charles Henry Bennett, 57, touched her inappropriately when she was 12, deputies said he was arrested early Friday and booked into the Orange County Jail.
...
Bennett’s apparent MySpace page says Bennett wants to meet “submissive females” and is a swinger who is a master of BDSM.
The fact that these kinds of searches are being done is going to attract perverts to the job.

Also, this cartoon was pretty popular over there.
posted by delmoi at 1:04 AM on November 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


Who exactly lives their lives so frightened that this agency sprung into being? Must be horrible to live like that.
posted by maxwelton at 1:33 AM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Who exactly lives their lives so frightened that this agency sprung into being? Must be horrible to live like that.

I was in DC at the time that this agency sprung into being and knew several people involved in the policies that led to its creation and the creation of other policies conceived out of fear. It was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the United States was, indeed, gripped with a fear that led to multiple far-reaching, irrational policy decisions. Among those policy decisions, TSA is one of the most innocuous, actually. And yes, it was horrible to live like that.
posted by The World Famous at 1:44 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


It was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the United States was, indeed, gripped with a fear that led to multiple far-reaching, irrational policy decisions.

I don't know. I was on my way out of Memphis when they shut the airspace, and once I got over the why-are-all-these-people-here confusion, the main thing -- that day -- I was afraid of was multiple far-reaching, irrational policy decisions. Might just be me, though...
posted by Vetinari at 2:38 AM on November 11, 2010 [11 favorites]


(Seriously. I distinctly remember being relieved when I crossed the border into Arkansas to buy a car to drive back to Pittsburgh and wasn't stopped on the Hernando DeSoto Bridge by the National Guard. I guess my fantasies about the coming authoritarian apocalypse were a bit overdone...)
posted by Vetinari at 2:43 AM on November 11, 2010


I've travelled back and forth from the US repeatedly. If anything, I was stopped more prior to 2001 (when I looked like a student thug) than after it. I'd certainly like to see the removal of pornoscans but generally speaking, if you stay calm and polite you'll get through no problem. The worst I've had was when I couldn't provide full fingerprints; they pulled me to one side for a while and checked my ESTA, then let me on my way.

If anything, I'm more pissed at the fact that from September I and any other international traveller now have to pay to go through the mandatory process of finding out whether they're allowed to enter the US.
posted by stelas at 2:46 AM on November 11, 2010


You know if you folks took the Israeli route to airport security - staffing customs with attractive females with incredible piercing stares who do not blink (ever) - these pat downs wouldn't be so bad.
posted by PenDevil at 3:01 AM on November 11, 2010


You know, I'd be willing to sign a waiver relieving the TSA and airlines of legal responsibility of me being killed in an terrorist attack in exchange for processing through pre-September 11th type security (metal detector and baggage x-ray). It would be a good experiment to have competition between airlines offer waiver flights and those with full security screening. I suspect that over the long term the insurance savings for the airlines' waiver flights would vastly out weight any costs from damages in the unlikely event of a successful attack. On the human side of the equation, I'm probably not alone in my willingness to except a reasonable risk in exchange for a more pleasant and convenient experience.
posted by chrisulonic at 3:05 AM on November 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


The TSA's Blogger Bob is an authority on this matter and you have absolutely no reason not to trust the man.
posted by gman at 3:07 AM on November 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


But in how many years of flying have trace elements of explosive materials actually resulted in a plane going down?

Um, they're not trying to stop people taking trace amounts of explosives on airplanes. They are trying to detect trace amounts of explosives because that would indicate either the presence of large amounts of explosives or that the person had touched some explosives recently. Maybe trace amounts of explosive being detected on the bomber of Pan Am 103 (or their luggage) might have stopped a plane going down, who knows?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:33 AM on November 11, 2010


> You know, I'd be willing to sign a waiver relieving the TSA and airlines of legal responsibility of me being killed in an terrorist attack in exchange for processing through pre-September 11th type security (metal detector and baggage x-ray).

They don't have any legal liability for that anyway, so I doubt they'd be willing to bargain.
posted by davelog at 4:08 AM on November 11, 2010


The World Famous: I've traveled enough to have been held at machine gun point for no apparent reason on more than one occasion.

You really can't just drop shit like this without any details. Come on, tell the stories.
posted by ericost at 4:08 AM on November 11, 2010


I really don't understand the outcry over the backscatter machines. So some person in a room somewhere else sees a gray picture of your body, which is unrecognizable in terms of facial identity? What is the massive outcry here? I've been through the backscatter machines in both the UK and the US, and it's quick and easy. The person looking at me in the flesh cannot see the image, and the person seeing the image cannot see who the image actually represents.

I get why the ACLU (an organization I am generally 100% behind in terms of their goals of protecting individual privacy) is sitting this one out -- it's a stupid hill to die on.
posted by modernnomad at 4:26 AM on November 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


If anything, I'm more pissed at the fact that from September I and any other international traveller now have to pay to go through the mandatory process of finding out whether they're allowed to enter the US.

What's this referring to?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:28 AM on November 11, 2010


So do they single out a few for the pornoscan or is it the default for all? I'm traveling with my kids next month through Logan and there's no way they're getting scanned. And I'd rather not have them felt up by the TSA in the name of security theater. This sucks.
posted by theredpen at 4:29 AM on November 11, 2010


theredpen -- what do you think will happen if you kids get scanned?
posted by modernnomad at 4:38 AM on November 11, 2010


I don't think anything will happen. I just don't like this technology and find it invasive. I also think the radiation question is not completely answered. I don't want my kids going through and I don't think this type of thing is okay in general. I would like to be safe, of course, so I have reservations about this. I'm just really bothered by it more than reassured.
posted by theredpen at 4:47 AM on November 11, 2010


I've traveled enough to have been held at machine gun point for no apparent reason on more than one occasion. U.S.A.'s border experience is absolutely not among the worst in the world. The U.S. border experience sucks. But it's no Guatemala/Mexico border experience, for example.

Sorry, TWF, I didn't mean to dig at you.

But is the standard really Guatemala/Mexico? I'm old enough to have travelled behind the Iron Curtain when there still was an Iron Curtain and -- personally speaking -- the crossing between East and West Germany in the early 80s was more pleasant than flying into the US is today, in both directions.
posted by unSane at 4:52 AM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


modernnomad: If you think others shouldn't be concerned with the pornoscanners, the doctors at UCSF (which is THE leading research medical institution) disagree.
posted by amuseDetachment at 4:55 AM on November 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


Well, I've been one-up on these guys for 3,495 days. So I guess I win, oh, five internets.
Seriously, this kind of "boycott" is meaningless. So when the UK Terror Chief was blocked from boarding because she had a "large airsole can" but nothing changes because of it...
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:03 AM on November 11, 2010


modernnomad: If you think others shouldn't be concerned with the pornoscanners, the doctors at UCSF (which is THE leading research medical institution) disagree.

That's fine -- we can have a reasonable, science-based discussion about the potential health risks of the backscatter machines. Presumably if the weight of scientific evidence suggests there is no health risk, you would then have no problem with the scanners. But that's not what this protest is about, as far as I can tell, nor is referring to them as 'pornoscanners' related to health concerns. Calling them 'pornoscanners' is a way of colouring the debate without actually having an adult conversation about whether or not they are truly invasive of privacy. And then that of course is a separate question again from whether or not they are in fact an effective security tool (to which I don't commit either way). So it seems to me there are 3 important questions. 1) Are they effective? 2) If so, are the unacceptably invasive of privacy? 3) If not, do they nonetheless pose health risks which mean we shouldn't adopt them?

My only stance so far is re: the second question -- I just don't see the privacy concern given the safeguards built into the system.
posted by modernnomad at 5:14 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think we'll be a lot safer with the pornoscanners and gropedowns because peeping-toms, child molesters and other assorted creeperverts will no longer need to find low-paying jobs in darkly-lit school hallways and mall corridors where they have nothing to do but push brooms and skulk around, and instead be given decent Federal jobs with nice pensions and benefit packages where they can have their kinks exercised 8 hours a day on the clock so when they get off work they are no longer horny and so desperate for action they'll wander around the streets looking for dark shrubbery in which to lurk.

I think this plan is commendable and forward-thinking in its civic mindedness, and I think it should be extended to many other deviant behaviours. Keep in mind this pattern has been successfully followed to perfection by the financial services industry in their employment of liars, cheats and swindlers, and by the police services industry in their employment of aggressively violent bruisers with low impulse control.

I foresee a bright future of work for every class of amoral behaviour all supported by taxpayers like you and me all in the name of Safety and the Wars Against Drugs and Terrorism.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:31 AM on November 11, 2010 [15 favorites]


Moan softly and whisper. Call them by name. Yes, James, God yes. Mmmmmmm you're so good at that. A little higher and to the left. Oh Jesus fuck I'm so close. When they're done, call them a tease. Offer to tip.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:33 AM on November 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


I just don't see the privacy concern given the safeguards built into the system.

As several people have mentioned, the supposed safeguards don't seem to be keeping them from saving pictures they're not supposed to be saving. I'm going to guess that you're a man who has never been sexually assaulted or harassed with no physical disabilities or things about you under your clothes that you prefer to keep private. People who might feel differently from you include women who have been sexually assaulted or harassed, people with physical disabilities whose images without their clothes may look very different from those of able-bodied people, people with colostomies or other medical conditions hidden by clothes that they would prefer to not share with the TSA, and people whose gender presentation does not match their genitalia.

In reality, there are an awful lot of 'members of the traveling public' who would prefer that a stranger not see them naked and that their pictures not be saved for the entertainment of other TSA officers. A lot of those people would also prefer not to have their crotches groped.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:40 AM on November 11, 2010 [50 favorites]


If you had told my teabagger father in, say, 1999 that in order to fly he'd have to let the government take pictures of him naked while watching his wife and daughter being felt up, he'd have enumerated some of the more extreme interpretations of the Second Amendment.

Yet here we are.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:52 AM on November 11, 2010 [19 favorites]


Surely I cannot be the first one to link to XKCD's take on this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:18 AM on November 11, 2010


What sucks is that I usually fake up a longer penis using toner cartridges, but now I can't do either :(
posted by Legomancer at 6:18 AM on November 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


I have a better idea. Take the train.
posted by Jess the Mess at 6:19 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints : Moan softly and whisper. Call them by name. Yes, James, God yes. Mmmmmmm you're so good at that. A little higher and to the left. Oh Jesus fuck I'm so close. When they're done, call them a tease. Offer to tip.

This hoodie is for you then.

Myself, I plan on wearing this badge.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:24 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just don't see the privacy concern given the safeguards built into the system.

Safeguards -- they're not everywhere and there is human error. Plus even if these things work the way they're supposed to, someone I don't know is seeing me nearly naked!! It's not just a concern for certain people as mentioned above, although I think that is a thoughtful and important point. Some of us are just painfully shy or self-conscious and will be really stressed even if the images aren't Internet-bound. And that's apart from the safety issues.

I think calling them "pornoscanners" brings this matter back down to reality. You call them backscatter scanners and after a while people get used to them, to this amazing level of privacy invasion and intrusion. We all keep readjusting our "normal" downward. This is too far for me. I want to fly when I need to. The patdowns are also humiliating for me, but I'm hoping less actually dangerous.
posted by theredpen at 6:31 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The point of what I'm saying is, we can't let airport security practices take away our freedoms and our personal liberties. Yeah, making sure some nutbag doesn't take down a plane is important, I grant you, but as many others have said before, when we sacrifice our liberties in the name of security, the nutbags have already won.

I don't disagree with you on principle, but the sort of debate you had with the security agent would get you detained by the TSA if you were in the US. They might release you with no charges much, much later on, but you would have only succeeded in causing your own delay and/or missed flight.

I was traveling through a security checkpoint in Billings, Montana a couple of years ago. The agent took my shoes and did the whole bomb-sniffing machine thing, and waved me down with a wand. I muttered "Oh fer cryin out loud" and the TSA agent immediately said in a loud voice "IS THERE A PROBLEM SIR?" I just told him to do what he had to do. I could tell the guy was on a power trip or thought he was doing God's Work, and that arguing was only going to give him reason to cause me a lot of trouble.

Write your government representatives, donate money to your civil liberty organization of choice, participate in a protest. Hassling security agents at the airport isn't going to prove a point to anyone but yourself.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:38 AM on November 11, 2010


OTOH I am just terrified of terrorism (hence the name!), so I don't know what to do.
posted by theredpen at 6:39 AM on November 11, 2010


They are killing themselves anyways so why not detonate the explosive inside their body?

Or, Fido's?

Failed Al Qaeda plot involved sewing bombs inside dogs.
posted by ericb at 6:43 AM on November 11, 2010


I really don't understand the outcry over the backscatter machines. So some person in a room somewhere else sees a gray picture of your body, which is unrecognizable in terms of facial identity? What is the massive outcry here?

I would be OK with the system if I were absolutely assured that only a single trustworthy person would see an unidentifiable image. But there will be security camera feeds that can be trivially matched up to the 3D images of a person's body, and I don't doubt that all this will be stored (ostensibly for future use in criminal prosecutions). Full 3D images of you naked could be subpoenaed for court cases (your honor, we have evidence that the her husband was perfectly capable of having an affair), used by random perverts inside the TSA (remember the London security camera pointed through a window at a woman's apartment), and sold on the black market if you're famous (imagine how much you could sell a nudie pic of Lady Gaga for).
posted by miyabo at 6:43 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


two or three cars parked under the stars: What's this referring to?

I believe it's the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). It costs $14 for a successful application, although I think that might be reduced to the low, low price of $4 if the application is unsuccessful. Anyone who travels to the US by air or sea and who is from on of the countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program must pay. It last for two years or until the associated passport expires, whichever is sooner.
posted by smcg at 6:45 AM on November 11, 2010


You know, I'd be willing to sign a waiver relieving the TSA and airlines of legal responsibility of me being killed in an terrorist attack in exchange for processing through pre-September 11th type security (metal detector and baggage x-ray).

They don't have any legal liability for that anyway, so I doubt they'd be willing to bargain.


The families of the Pam Am flight 103 bombing victims successfully sued Pan Am and the airport securty firm Alert Management for negligence, receiving a $19 million judgement.

There were also 96 wrongful death suits files against the airlines and airport security companies in the wake of September 11th. Insurance companies were thinking about the potential damage from lawsuits as early as September 13th 2001. Most eventually settled for a total of around $500 million. But, at least one lawsuit was still pending as of September this year.
posted by chrisulonic at 6:46 AM on November 11, 2010


I'd be more comfortable with the pornoscanners if:

1. Someone did a thorough safety analysis of them, including studies on pregnant women, elderly, succeptible, etc. Treat them like a medical device if you have to, but figure out if they're safe to use continually on the general public.

2. Put the viewing area out in the main terminal like they do with the conveyor belt x-ray. No more secret room, put it all on display so we really know what's going on. Show people the images that are being captured so they can make a decision about whether they want to opt out.

3. Either we can opt out or not. Make it a legitimate choice and provide enough people to handle the overflow. And stop being dicks about it.
posted by Lord_Pall at 6:50 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've always refused these scanners and will continue to do so. When it's not legal to refuse and still fly, I won't fly. I'm not sure why this is a single day event.
posted by odinsdream at 6:55 AM on November 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think Americans tend to under-estimate the hostility of their border procedures simply because they are treated differently from other nationals. The TSA nonsense is only the start of it. As soon as you get tangled up in immigration, the Kafka factor goes up exponentially.

ESTA has actually been something of a help but it sucks to have to pay for it.
posted by unSane at 6:57 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, regarding safety: There have been cases of radiation overdoses with legitimate medical devices whose fail-safes weren't adequate. There's absolutely no reason to trust the people who make these machines are competent at designing them safely. As far as I can tell, they're not even required to meet the standards that medical devices do. It's a new industry run by the buddies of people directly hiring the same companies and buying the machines. It's transparently corrupt, and I'll be damned if I'm going to support it.
posted by odinsdream at 7:02 AM on November 11, 2010 [13 favorites]


On November 24th, if anybody tries to make me submit to a back-scatter scan, I promise to opt out of it. This is highly unlikely to happen to me as I lie by the pool in Mexico though.
posted by antifuse at 7:20 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, on failure to read the whole thread before posting above...

You know, I'd be willing to sign a waiver relieving the TSA and airlines of legal responsibility of me being killed in an terrorist attack in exchange for processing through pre-September 11th type security (metal detector and baggage x-ray).

Just the type of thing a TERRORIST would say.
posted by antifuse at 7:23 AM on November 11, 2010


I'll repeat myself from a recent thread on the subject:
I fly all the time for work. About two weeks ago leaving BWI I went through the pornoscan for the first time. I didn't request a grope instead because it all happened so fast, but frankly I was also curious to experience it for myself after having read so much about these things. After going through, a security guy directed me off to the side and did a grope, asking me if there was anything in my pockets. No, just a few pieces of paper. He seemed incredulous at this. Then I realized he was wondering about The Mighty Righty.
I said "Oh, yeah, you're talking about The Mighty Righty! Yeah, my right ball is like the size of a fucking softball or something, man. Or a grapefruit or something! It's huge!"
"Uh... right. What?" Now he's calling for his supervisor to come over.
"My attorney kicked me in the nuts a few years ago and now I have to carry The Mighty Righty around with me everywhere I go!" He is having a few quiet words with the supervisor. He tells me he's going to do a grope, despite having just done one thirty seconds ago.
"Okay." He is visibly uncomfortable. He does another grope with the supervisor, uh, supervising.
Then the supervisor tells me they need to do a grope, and asks if I would prefer this happen in privacy.
"What? I don't care. You just did two patdowns right here."
They are both now very uncomfortable. They tell me we're going to go into the private room.
We go back there and the supervisor asks me what's up.
"Yeah well I got kicked in the balls a few years ago and so now my right testicle is fucking enormous."
He tells the officer to do a grope. The officer gropes yet again, exactly like the previous two out in public.
Supervisor: "Does it feel like it could be that?"
Officer: "Uh. Yeah. I guess so? Sure."
Supervisor: "Okay. Thanks. Sorry. It just looked really weird on the scanner."
Me, as we're walking back out: "I bet it did! I need to get a framed copy of that picture!"
Supervisor: "We can't do that."
"Yeah I know. I'll have to file a FOIA request or something."
"Have a good flight."
Meanwhile ten thousand dollars of sound gear has been sitting out at the end of the x-ray conveyor belt. I was flying with someone that day, so I had made sure he was watching it all, but I fly alone a lot and that could have been a problem.
Anyway, I agree that the posture is very much "I surrender". I will probably try to avoid these damn things in the future, but I can't do that at the expense of missing a flight, and I imagine that's another behavior the TSA is counting on and will take advantage of.
Also, I was having a conversation with three pretty smart people today about all this, and they could not care less about the invasion of privacy. It just doesn't register with them. I think one of them actually said "I have nothing to hide," or words to that effect. I threw that same Ben Franklin quote out, and was met with blank stares. I think that's how most people feel, and I don't know what to do with that.

posted by zoinks at 7:25 AM on November 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


TSA: Travelers Sexually Assaulted?

I wrote my Senator -- the usually-responsive Jack Reed -- but it was election week and I haven't heard back. So who else can I reach out to with my concerns? The airlines? My state Representatives?

I would appreciate suggestions, as I have *cough* a few thoguhts to share on this topic.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:34 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that terrorists are laughing themselves silly over what they've accomplished: the slowdown of air travel, which ripples outward into society, causing loss of productivity, which in turn hurts the economy.

Every time the TSA knee-jerks over a possible threat, the terrorist laugh that much harder. They probably sit around thinking up ludicrous scenarios just to see what happens. First it was shoes and then liquids.

Next they'll probably try to take down a plane using a chicken dinner, followed by the TSA banning meals on all flights and confiscating your vitamins.
posted by bwg at 7:37 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I flew and did this I'd give the canny quip "Check out this package". (sorry if it's been said upthread, in fact, sorry I said it at all).
posted by symbioid at 7:38 AM on November 11, 2010


Calling them 'pornoscanners' is a way of colouring the debate without actually having an adult conversation about whether or not they are truly invasive of privacy.

No, it's a way of summarizing the adult conversation that has already been had.
posted by roystgnr at 7:38 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jesus, zoinks. I'm sorry to hear that -- that is awful (although nothing to be embarrassed about on its own) (and I hope you got a new attorney?). Even I'd almost rather walk through naked. I'm sure they never run home and tell people about their day at work, either.
posted by theredpen at 7:41 AM on November 11, 2010


There is an FDA response to the concern letter posted above.

ITA about the terrorists enjoying this thoroughly. The underpants guy was a real win-win situation for them.
posted by theredpen at 7:46 AM on November 11, 2010


Every time the TSA knee-jerks over a possible threat, the terrorist laugh that much harder. They probably sit around thinking up ludicrous scenarios just to see what happens. First it was shoes and then liquids.

I could not. fucking. believe. that they actually banned toner cartridges as a result of the toner-cartridge bomb. As soon as that story came out I thought "well, surely they won't be that dumb..." but nooo... as if there was something so special about toner cartridges that terrorists chose to hide the bombs there, rather than in, say, golf clubs, telescopes, beanie-babies, microwave parts, blocks of soap, etc.

It's really hitting home that the people in charge of this shit actually have no clue what they're doing.
posted by odinsdream at 8:12 AM on November 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


I flew round trip LAX to DFW Halloween weekend, and besides the usual ridiculously long lines and general chaos at LAX, I was genuinely surprised by how smoothly it all went.

LAX had the pornoscanners installed, but when it was my turn, I simply said "I'd rather not. Can I get a pat down instead?" The TSA guy actually said, "Cool. Ok" and shouted "Opt Out!" to a female officer behind him. No stink eye, no sigh, no hostility, just "cool". The female officer put on her gloves and asked me if I wanted to go to a private area for the pat down. I've been through so many of them I just don't care, so I said no.* She then asked if I had any particularly sensitive areas on my body. I said, "I'm a little PMS-y, so the boobs are a bit sore, but other than that, go to town." We both chuckled, she did a more thorough pat down than I've ever had before, but I certainly didn't feel violated, and I was sent on my way. Honestly, it took less time than the usual back and forth through the metal detector 20 times before they decide to pat me down.

I wonder if LAX is the exception simply because they have a lot of celebrities going through there (who most certainly don't want naked pictures of them being taken), so they've been trained to be nicer about it.

Flying back from DFW, they didn't have scanners in our terminal, just plain old metal detectors. I honestly wonder if they were even plugged in, because I didn't set it off. I even forgot to take off my belt and the machine didn't make a peep. We were through security in about a minute and a half, including the wait in line.

*I have ginormous boobs, which means the ginormous underwire in my bra sets off the metal detectors and I end up getting a pat down. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 8:17 AM on November 11, 2010


So, what accommodations does TSA make for those individuals who have been sexually or physically abused and will find the pat-down to be traumatic?

Not being hypothetical here. My foster child has survived a tremendous amount of abuse and an incident where someone tried to kill this child. I have seen how many months it has taken to build trust enough for the doctors to do routine exams without a complete hysterical and violent melt-down. Let's not even get into the child's fear of strangers, particularly men.

Just to forgo any "how likely are you to travel with the kiddo" comments, I've already been allowed to take this child with me out of state multiple times. This little one is most likely becoming a permanent member of my family next year so travel will continue. When we flew this summer, TSA waved us past the scanners because "you're with a young one." We may not be so lucky next time and I hate to think of kiddo's reaction if one of the adults gets pat down much less one of the kids.
posted by onhazier at 8:26 AM on November 11, 2010 [18 favorites]


I could not. fucking. believe. that they actually banned toner cartridges as a result of the toner-cartridge bomb. As soon as that story came out I thought "well, surely they won't be that dumb..." but nooo... as if there was something so special about toner cartridges that terrorists chose to hide the bombs there...

I watched an interview on television in which a security analyst pointed out that the bomber replaced the powder ink with that of PETN -- also a powder. Thus the cartridge, its contents and the circuit board, cellphone innards, etc. did/could likely pass through an X-ray scan, showing no anomalies, thus raising little/no suspicion.
posted by ericb at 8:31 AM on November 11, 2010


ericb: I understand, and I still consider it stupid to ban individual items that were used in attempted attacks.
posted by odinsdream at 8:37 AM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


So, what accommodations does TSA make for those individuals who have been sexually or physically abused and will find the pat-down to be traumatic?

There are no such accommodations.
posted by odinsdream at 8:38 AM on November 11, 2010


loquacious: "Also, a message to the TSA: You really don't want me to remove my boots. I will if you insist. I don't really care. But it's probably in the best interests of the TSA, the airport, the travelers in the airport, any endangered species nearby, the air quality management district, environmental agencies and hazmat response teams of whatever city I'm in that I don't"

Your stinkfoot puts a hurt on my nose.
posted by Reverend John at 8:58 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if you went through in one of those Captain Pike-style mobile life support systems?

I'm sure Ritchie was being facetious and not expecting a serious reply about air travel for mobile life support, i.e. ventilator users, but unfortunately for MetaFilter I get to roll out the wheelchair-accessible soapbox now!

Since 2009, when the Department of Transportation issued a rule requiring commercial airlines to allow passengers to use respiratory equipment during flight if the equipment bears a label saying it meets all safety requirements of the FAA (presumably to prevent people from bringing unsafe or counterfeit devices on board), ventilator users have been getting harassed or turned away from flights because no such labels exist. The manufacturers aren't interested in getting respiratory equipment certified for in-flight use, and the FAA hasn't even identified a process by which labels would be issued.

Now I am a malcontent with Photoshop, and I have half a mind to fire it up and design my own label. But the other half of my mind advises me that the current climate of fear is such that I'd probably be arrested for terrorism if I tried to use a ventilator to breathe on an airplane with my homemade label.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:05 AM on November 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


My wife opted out of the full-body scan just this morning. The fact that I even have to think about this shit when I travel with my 13-yr-old daughter makes me very angry.

I hope to see the defunding and disbandment of the TSA and Homeland security in my life time but I won't hold my breath.
posted by photoslob at 9:06 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've just reached out to the TSA Ombudsman (love that the person is not named) to begin a dialogue on the whole pat-down and traumatized kids question. We'll see if I get a response. Since their office is not that far from my office, I've offered to speak with them in person if they're open to such a conversation.
posted by onhazier at 9:07 AM on November 11, 2010


When the USA finally hits the budgetary wall, which it will well within your lifetime, all this make-work bullshit will disappear overnight.
posted by unSane at 9:10 AM on November 11, 2010


"I want you to understand you're not what I have a problem with... I understand you're just a tool of the oppressors. I just have a problem with the policy."

Oof. Pulling that shit in the US right now would definitely get you a back-room pat down and a nice long chat.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:12 AM on November 11, 2010


stopgropingme.com is selling tshirts for the next time you opt-out. *Annoying interface, but I want one!
posted by gman at 9:23 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and one more thing:

If one more smug asshole says "why don't you just take the train?" I will yank off my left shoe and beat you with it. For the vast majority of the country, THERE IS NO FUCKING TRAIN!
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 9:23 AM on November 11, 2010 [13 favorites]


Someone above: Thanks, Dubya. You fucking clown.

Unfortunately that doesn't quite work anymore.
posted by JHarris at 9:24 AM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


ValkoSipuliSuola: "Oh, and one more thing:

If one more smug asshole says "why don't you just take the train?" I will yank off my left shoe and beat you with it. For the vast majority of the country, THERE IS NO FUCKING TRAIN!
"

*Sigh* and our just newly elected governor is trying to make DAMN sure there won't be one, either. Fuck Scott Walker, that piece of shit asshole.
posted by symbioid at 9:25 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


THERE IS NO FUCKING TRAIN

I'd love to take the train. And there is one from Boston to Buffalo. But it takes TWELVE HOURS, as opposed to 1.5 for flying. Driving would be faster. That's hard with kids, and for a weekend special event trip.
posted by theredpen at 9:31 AM on November 11, 2010


I have a better idea. Take the train.

I fully agree, but not an option for everybody. International travellers for one.

I have to say, I've flown internationally to the US probably 6 or 7 times in the last decade. It's generally been OK. The staff haven't been great, but they haven't been much worse than anywhere else. The staff at LAX had a good attitude towards the ridiculous requirements there (if you're transitting LAX internationally, you have to clear US customs, then turn around and go back to a transit lounge: total hassle and waste of time). But the staff were fine and got everyone through with a minimum of hassle.

It's more the general feeling of confusion and crowding that I get at the checkpoints at US airports, even ones like SFO (which is a lot smaller than Heathrow, say - but maybe I'm just more familiar with Heathrow).
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:39 AM on November 11, 2010


I would prefer the train, if getting from Little Rhodey to Minnesota by train took less than three days but more like the three hours flying time plus two hours airport-security-queue-time-wasting-time that it does now. Goodnes knows it couldn't cost more than flying a big family, and it would save me having my wife & four kids molested by some goon.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:43 AM on November 11, 2010


Trains also aren't an option for people who don't have money to burn. Plane tickets home this Christmas are more expensive than I've seen in 18 years of flying from NYC to Dallas. So I priced the train, just to see if the insane airfare made train travel a viable alternative. Nope. Train was still significantly more.

How long do these pornoscanners take to do their thing? Long enough to freak out someone who's claustrophobic?
posted by Mavri at 9:49 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Modernnomad (and r_nebblesworthII, who favorited above):

I am opposed to the backscatter machines and invasive patdowns and other "security" measures on privacy grounds, on health grounds, and on ethics grounds; however, all of that is neither here nor there, it's all missing the point. Whether they can see your face AND your naked body image, whether they keep the photos or not, whether there are still undiscovered radiation exposure consequences, whether the machines were deployed for political back-scratching doesn't matter. Closer to the crux of the issue are the people who have commented that you face a choice of assuming a submissive position in the machine, or submit to an invasion of your physical person. For what? Because you've been detained on suspicion of committing a crime? You've been convicted of something and this is part of the punishment you must endure? Because you are not mentally competent enough to move about freely on your own business, trusted not to harm yourself or others? Because you're nothing more than an animal, to be prodded and herded from point A to B, tagged, tracked, and monitored by your keepers and/or owners like branded cattle?

The heart of the objection to these machines and procedures, is that they are designed to rob people of their dignity and remind them (whether they are selected for secondary screening or not, as the threat of such always looms) that they are not as free to move about as they might like to think they are.

Bear with me a minute. I was sitting the other day with a group of teachers complaining about one particular local high school, one of the chief problems of which is that it is difficult to lock down. That it made the full-on, classroom-by-classroom, person-by-person searches more difficult to accomplish. They were all so matter-of-fact, that the only thing wrong with the situation is that it was difficult to get all the cops and dogs in and keep the kids in place and not able to hide their "contraband"-- it was just accepted as normal that there would be police and dogs in schools shutting down educational activities for a day to do a random, unwarranted (as in, no cause triggered the lockdown, it was just a scheduled thing, like a fire drill) person-by-person search of kids. They were lauding the more recently-built schools, not because they contained, say, updated facilities, a state-of-the-art theater, cleaner bathrooms or whatever, who knows, a grassy quad and a reflecting pool, but because they are designed on the same principles as a prison, for ease of monitoring and population control. This was all seen as normal, unremarkable. Like the sky being blue. I was horrified.

Just as some people seem to view as normal that anyone, ever, whether in a separate room and unable to see my face, has any business seeing beneath the clothing that I have put on or touching my body against my wishes-- especially when I've committed no act to draw the attention of the authorities to myself. The fact that the authorities themselves even are trumpeting the delays and unpleasantness involved in the alternative to the bodyscanner, in order to push you into choosing the bodyscanner against your better judgment, goes to show that even they recognize it as unseemly, as something that they have to train people to get used to by offering a psychologically more unappealing alternative. Why did they want to deploy the bodyscanners? Because someone developed the technology and wanted to recoup their R&D costs. Because there's lots of cash flowing around in the "criminal justice" "homeland security" industry. Because they can. They found a solution and went looking for a problem. People were trained through advertising and social engineering long long ago that everyone smoked and it was cool, positive, and normal so that the tobacco companies could keep earning money hand over fist. Now we're all being trained that everyone else is potentially a criminal or terrorist and we'll all be safer if we all submit to naked checks on the whim of the authorities so that security tech companies can keep raking it in.

You know what? I grew up in a nudist household, and if I happen to have chosen to go out on the beach or in my backyard and someone sees me naked, then it frankly doesn't bother me. I've elected to put myself out there. But the TSA's policy is that they have a right to take a peek or a grab at their whim and pleasure, with no input from me, based on some vague fear that something, somewhere, sometime might conceivably happen, based on some minuscule ill-defined risk and they want to be extra special ready just in case-- and that this is a normal situation. Matter-of-fact. Just the way the world works.

It's no biggie, everyone gets searched, and screened, and scanned, and tagged, and monitored, their biometric information stored in an identity database, it's normal. You can be asked to submit, at any time, for any reason or no reason, just because someone in authority wants it done. You are not trustworthy, you are not competent to decide for yourself who gets to see your privates--or really, even, the contents of your pockets. Yeah yeah, I know, I chose to go to the airport, so I consented to the screening-- nowadays. Because that's what's normal and expected at airports-- nowadays.

I avoid flying these days, unless I have no option. I also don't show my receipt when leaving stores and I don't shop at places that require me to check my bags when you walk in or look in them on the way out. You want to know why? Because I haven't done anything. I'm not a child, or an animal, or a criminal. (Hey, even if I were a criminal, I haven't been caught yet, so I still get to enjoy all the privileges that a person with a clean record is supposed to enjoy.) There is no reason to search my bags or my person. The default assumption is (should be) that we don't need to be ready to be checked and screened anywhere, at any time. The default position at an airport should be you don't need to see beneath everyone's (or even, really, a 10% random sample of people's) clothing. But people have been trained to think it's normal. That they'll somehow be safer. It's just the way the world works.

Sorry for my hyperbolic rambling, especially in response to what may be a troll or a TSA/L3 psyops plant-- at least I hope that's what it is, because the alternative, that you've bought into this worldview wholesale and see nothing wrong with it, makes me weep. I didn't mean to get all time-cubey and typing this just made me miss most of an episode of Dr. Who (Patrick Troughton), which I shall now go back to enjoying, along with my tea and (as some of you may be thinking) my meds. Best not to get me started on tasers either.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 10:28 AM on November 11, 2010 [79 favorites]


Blogger Bob responds:

(I don't happen to think the videos prove or disprove much of anything. It is hard to tell what is going on in the second video)
posted by dforemsky at 10:30 AM on November 11, 2010


Hal Mumkin, I feel for you, but just to be clear, this stuff is only normal in the US. It is not normal in any other democracy on earth. China and North Korea possibly, but you'd have to check.

Next time someone starts blathering on about American exceptionalism, well, I don't have to spell it out.
posted by unSane at 10:40 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I tend to prefer the term "flight fondle" for the pat down option. It's got great alliteration, and a hair more kiddy-diddling negative connotation than the alternatives involving "grope"
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:05 AM on November 11, 2010


I have a better idea. Take the train.

Dude, the second they make a trans-Atlantic train, I am SO THERE. I've got time. I like trains. Just so long as they keep the "way more comfy" train seats and don't start thinking of shit like "Oooh! We can get more seats if we sacrifice three inches of leg room!"

And don't tell me that a terrorist wouldn't want to blow up an underwater train. That'd have some mad security.

Still, I hate airplanes. They make my knees hurt. And I'm not even tall.

(Also: I am such a huge dork that I read DFW and thought "Man! David Foster Wallace has his own airport? That's so badass!" and then realized. Oh. Dallas-Fort Worth. Not as cool.)
posted by sonika at 11:06 AM on November 11, 2010


Absolutely with you, Hal M. It's so easy for people to rationalize away their own dignity and autonomy -- just look how many people will ask 'what's the big deal?' Or how many people will parrot the TSA's talking points about how we should trust them, this is for our safety, and they wouldn't do anything unethical or unsafe for us. Or how many people complain on the Internet but won't rouse themselves to do anything?

Weep, if you're moved to, but find some way to act, too. Start pestering your representatives, send money to the appropriate places. Go down swingin'.
posted by slab_lizard at 11:07 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


pompomtom writes "Apart from the bullying mentioned by Flashman above, I'm not sure why this is just a one day thing. From November 25, everyone's meant to acquiese to this pointless charade?"

You've got to start somewhere and a national day is easy to get press attention to.

maxwelton writes "Who exactly lives their lives so frightened that this agency sprung into being? Must be horrible to live like that."

Are you kidding? Half of NYC shit a brick when a few military planes circled over head long enough to take a few pictures.

unSane writes "When the USA finally hits the budgetary wall, which it will well within your lifetime, all this make-work bullshit will disappear overnight."

Security stuff like this tends to be one of the last things to be defunded unfortunately.
posted by Mitheral at 11:09 AM on November 11, 2010


I don't care if they can take a picture of me and my wiener. The letter up thread has me convinced to opt out. I travel too much to take the risk. I fly over 100K a year. I've already been through those machines quite a few times. I'm not going to risk it anymore. I'll get there earlier and be groped or harassed or whatever. I'm simply going to say, I opt out. if they ask me why or try to challenge me I'm just going to say, "I opt out, I'll wait." Traveling near thanksgiving I'm not letting my kids go through this machine. No fucking way. Sorry if this slows down the rest of you. I know it will piss some folks off. I have my drill down with the metal detectors and the laptops and the shoes. I can make it through a normal security with a well chorographed minimialist dance routine that is effortless and instant. So if this means I'm joining the ranks of the people who are scorned because they are apparently the last person in the universe to know that you can't take a full sized bottle of shampoo through on the carry-on, well that's just the way it is I guess.
posted by humanfont at 11:29 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Effigy2000 wrote: "She remembered, got angry all over again ("I guess we're never flying anywhere ever again then!" she said)"

Don't feel bad. My SO gets annoyed with me on a regular basis when I remind her that I'm not flying anywhere that it's possible to reach by other means of transportation. She tells me I'm ruining her life. I point out that no, I'm not the one ruining her life, the TSA and their insecure "security measures" are doing a fine job of that on their own.

For example, why is it that we take off our shoes rather than wear them through the ETD (puffer) machines they were half-heartedly rolling out some years back, if it's really about security and not the appearance of security? She generally agrees that it's all a bunch of bullshit, but she doesn't care enough to do anything about it.

modernnomad wrote: "I really don't understand the outcry over the backscatter machines. So some person in a room somewhere else sees a gray picture of your body, which is unrecognizable in terms of facial identity? What is the massive outcry here?"

Oh, I don't know. It might be that I find a strip search, even when done virtually, an invasion of my privacy that doesn't even provide a modicum of security? (There's a reason why they do cavity searches before they throw you in the pokey)

modernnomad wrote: "I just don't see the privacy concern given the safeguards built into the system."

The claimed safeguards. Like they claimed it wasn't possible to save or print the images, which turned out to be untrue.

Also, I prefer the term "strip search machine," since that's what they are.
posted by wierdo at 11:31 AM on November 11, 2010


"...the ranks of the people who are scorned because they are apparently the last person in the universe to know that you can't take a full sized bottle of shampoo through on the carry-on...."

Of course, there's also this. This is what we're comparing "normal" to nowadays.

Seriously, does anyone have any idea when this will stop or how far it will go before it at least stabilizes? The last time a TSA agent pulled one of my sons away for secondary I nearly lost it. As much as my family flies, it's really only a matter of time before I lose it for real.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:34 AM on November 11, 2010


It's not about the grainy pictures of my junk, it's about the unnecessary exposure to yet more radiation.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:34 AM on November 11, 2010


Yeah, and the train option is so unworkable that it's not an option. Traveling from here to my home for the holidays would take four days and $527 each way. That's for coach seats, not sleeper cars, so I'd just be going 96 hours sitting or standing. And that still drops me off a 3.5 hour drive away from my hometown.

Or, I could get a round trip flight for $450 and spend about 7 hours in transit each direction.

Maybe train is an option if both of your travel cities are along the California coast or the Atlantic coast north of DC, but outside of that you need giant sacks of cash and at least several days of vacation you don't mind spending on a train for it to be a real choice.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:36 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you want a picture of the future, imagine a TSA officer groping your genitals — forever.
posted by ryoshu at 11:48 AM on November 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


I used to love traveling by plane and now I'll do anything to avoid it. I'm glad all of my family lives in the state - I'd rather drive 280 miles on 11/24 than be groped by a TSA employee.

Seconded. Flying used to be a big adventure; now I'm avoiding it whenever I can. I'll be driving 750 miles each way to visit my family this Christmas. It'll be a full day of driving, and a long one, but I feel less stressed thinking about the drive than I do about the prospect of more bullshit from the TSA.

It's not about the grainy pictures of my junk, it's about the unnecessary exposure to yet more radiation.

I am offended by the idea that I should submit to the bogus privacy-invading control of the TSA in the first place. They are an unaccountable bureaucracy who clearly do not care about civil liberties. They are not protecting me or anyone I know from any realistic threat of harm, and the price they demand is incompatible with the notion of a free society.

I can't get rid of them by voting, since there is nobody to vote for who offers to take them down, or who would realistically have the power to do so if elected. All I can do is avoid them, or at least try to make fools of them.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:54 AM on November 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


Mars Saxman wrote: "I'll be driving 750 miles each way to visit my family this Christmas."

You aren't the only one. I put 3,190 miles on a rental car last Christmas driving to south Florida and back. No strip searches, no groping, and we get to take the dog, and it costs about the same as flying, even with paying for a rental for two weeks. (she's got extra hotel points to burn, so that costs nothing)

I like driving, so that's not a problem. The only real downside is that we get a few days less time with her family. In exchange, I get to see places I've never seen before and be even worse to the environment. Oh, and I get to stop in Alabama for the best steak and seafood anywhere in the country.
posted by wierdo at 12:09 PM on November 11, 2010


groping your genitals — forever

Yeah, that's another good point. It's not like any aspect of this at all will ever be rolled back. I can't think of any measure of security/security theater that has, apart from the NO LIQUIDS rule.

So can someone confirm that at airports with the pornoscanners, like Logan, everyone in line must go through them or the assertive patdown? It's not just a few who are pulled aside, right?
posted by theredpen at 12:11 PM on November 11, 2010


Homeland Security actually came out with a book a while ago to help children understand why they might pose a risk to national security.
posted by gman at 12:20 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not about the grainy pictures of my junk, it's about the unnecessary exposure to yet more radiation.

For me it's both. I'm not a fan of radiation, and if you want naked pictures of me, you gotta PAY!

and don't get me started on the fondling...sheesh....
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 12:49 PM on November 11, 2010


Yeah, and the train option is so unworkable that it's not an option. Traveling from here to my home for the holidays would take four days and $527 each way. That's for coach seats, not sleeper cars, so I'd just be going 96 hours sitting or standing. And that still drops me off a 3.5 hour drive away from my hometown.
Or, I could get a round trip flight for $450 and spend about 7 hours in transit each direction.
Maybe train is an option if both of your travel cities are along the California coast or the Atlantic coast north of DC, but outside of that you need giant sacks of cash and at least several days of vacation you don't mind spending on a train for it to be a real choice.


And that's not even factoring in that trains are perpetually late (really, why does freight get preferential rights? I'd like to know). I've heard many a story of even the NorCal to SoCal trains being 1-2 days late all the damn time, so if you want to go that way, plan to be DAYS late getting there and getting home. Hope you don't have a schedule or anything...

It's all a bunch of social blackmail, really. We can't all avoid flying all the time, it's just too convenient timewise if for nothing else. Ergo, we'll all be stuck with this, and I doubt enough people can quit flying for enough of a protest effect.

Happily, I don't fly very often, but I still don't look forward to dealing with this shit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:00 PM on November 11, 2010


Come on, folks, it's theater! Don't break the fourth wall. Pretend this going to make everyone safer and just submit. It'll go easier on you.

Think of the jack-booted oppression in terms of a ratchet. It only goes one direction. Once you've agreed to a metal detector, then it's take remove your laptop, then off your shoes, then give up your nail clippers, then limit your liquids and show me what you do have, then nakid pictures or quick feel. Once you get used to that, who knows, maybe a terrorist will use a body cavity, then guess what?
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:06 PM on November 11, 2010


Personally I prefer backscatter to a patdown, but I agree that all this stuff is ridiculous (or at least ineffective). However, for me it's so far down my outrage list that I don't have the energy to care. I can see why it would be a big issue for someone who has experienced sexual abuse or similar trauma.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:13 PM on November 11, 2010


jenfullmoon writes "And that's not even factoring in that trains are perpetually late (really, why does freight get preferential rights? I'd like to know). "

Freight makes money.
posted by Mitheral at 1:14 PM on November 11, 2010


Although I guess implementation varies? Now that I think about it, I flew out of SFO last week and they had 2 options: metal detector with no patdown, and backscatter. I just did the metal detector, so no patdown or backscatter.

And smaller airports don't seem to have any of the machines.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:15 PM on November 11, 2010


Freight makes money.

More than that, they own the tracks everywhere but the NE corridor. The freight companies lease the use of them to Amtrak, but only if their stuff gets absolute priority.
posted by Copronymus at 1:21 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can see why it would be a big issue for someone who has experienced sexual abuse or similar trauma.

Especially given the undeniable power trip that most TSA employees are on. Power imbalances make me nervous, and I've never experienced trauma like that. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be for a survivor.

Most recently I attempted to walk through the metal detector with my folded boarding pass in my front pocket. Well, it's sure as shit not metal, and I've always walked through with it in the past (albeit in my hand). For this I was challenged very aggressively as if I were hiding something. It's ridiculous.
posted by odinsdream at 1:29 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you for reminding me to dig my Alice's Resturaunt mp3 out of my backups before Thanksgiving!
posted by LiteOpera at 1:49 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always refused these scanners and will continue to do so.

Ditto. Every day I fly. And I'll be letting the ACLU know, per their invitation at their website, about any aggressive/abusive patdowns. I'm actually more than ready to sue.

I. have. had. it. The U.S. constitution is no more than a piece of parchment if no one ever stands up to defend their rights.
posted by bearwife at 1:57 PM on November 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Reuters: Pilots, passengers, parents rail at new pat downs.
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


NBC News: Scanner protest could trigger delays [video].
posted by ericb at 2:37 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm torn. I want to visit England in 2012 but have, on principle, not flown since the TSA came into being. What's White Star up to these days?
posted by maxwelton at 4:04 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking about this, and I have three things to say.

First, if we're going to protest, why not just show up in a raincoat and nothing else, and offer to open your raincoat for the patdown? Underwear included, of course.

Second, I'm having a hard time reconciling something. On the one hand, I think that increasing the pat-down intimacy level so that people are more likely to accept the pornoscan is a bad thing; on the other hand, I can't help but feel that on the whole I don't really care if someone gives me this intimate a pat-down in this context. That is, physical intimacy, casual or otherwise, isn't something I've ever shied away from, and if I found myself in a situation where I was naked in the street, I'd be a lot more concerned about where my clothes got off to than the fact that I was naked (assuming it wasn't f'ing freezing out.) So I wonder how much of the discomfort people are feeling is because we're more than a little provincial in the states.

Finally, the response to my comment about holding eye-contact and having a shit-eating grin during the patdown, so they would feel uncomfortable:

Right there with ya, davejay. I'll be doing my best to blow a load in their hand. Loudly.
posted by davelog


The lesson here, apparently, is that the genitalia of guys named Dave is not to be trifled with.
posted by davejay at 4:14 PM on November 11, 2010


Is? Are.
posted by davejay at 4:14 PM on November 11, 2010


we don't all share the same set of genitalia
posted by davejay at 4:14 PM on November 11, 2010


I don't know about White Star, but there's always Cunard.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:14 PM on November 11, 2010


Oh! How about waiting until the moment his hand's about to hit pay dirt, then politely ask: "So, are you a teabagger?"
posted by davejay at 4:23 PM on November 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


If you have a problem with TSA policies, then bug the people who think them up. Seriously, affluent people who can afford a plane ticket going ahead and harassing TSA workers who don't get paid all that much and desperately need their jobs to make ends meet and feed their children isn't the way to go. Why are you making their lives hard? They don't want to see the majority of us naked. Just get toasty in the airport bar first and go through. That's my plan.

TSA has a response to McLain's claims. I'm getting embarrassed by the number of women who are lying about the "harassment" they receive at the hands of TSA. Remember that crazy woman Nicole White who claimed "TSA took [her] baby" and they released footage that they didn't do it, that she made it all up?

If one more smug asshole says "why don't you just take the train?" I will yank off my left shoe and beat you with it. For the vast majority of the country, THERE IS NO FUCKING TRAIN!

Take a fucking bus or rent a fucking car or ride a fucking horse.

If anybody should get to be upset, it's me, and I just feel sorry for those damn TSA workers who are going to get harassed for decisions they did not make and do not enjoy implementing.

And why are you people BELIEVING without any hesitation or need for proof all the crazies (and they are generally affluent white women seeking attention -- is TSA the new "black man who stole my car/kidnapped me")who claim TSA kidnapped their toddlers and cuffed them to chairs? These people are, more often than not, proven to have wild imaginations and a great desire for attention.
posted by anniecat at 5:19 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


anniecat wrote: "Seriously, affluent people who can afford a plane ticket going ahead and harassing TSA workers who don't get paid all that much and desperately need their jobs to make ends meet and feed their children isn't the way to go."

Even if I accept your completely off-base premise that I should be nice to the TSA agents because they make less money than I do (which actually isn't true), there's nothing wrong with making them follow their procedures to the letter. It's not being mean to them. It doesn't make them work any harder. They're not going to have to stay late and work overtime because they fondled me instead of strip searching me. Or because they had to change their gloves, or because we had to go to the private room, or because I asked them to keep my bags in my sight at all times, or because I won't let them search my bags out of my presence.

If they're going to have idiotic rules, they get to follow them. If the front-line folks have a problem with that, they need to talk to their bosses, just as I do. Regularly. Or at least I did before I decided it wasn't worth the hassle to fly commercial anymore.
posted by wierdo at 5:34 PM on November 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Maybe we need reverse psychology: everyone could porno moan very loudly during every frisk, as though they we turned on something fierce.

We could even throw in a "That's so fucking hot!" from time to time.

If we all do it the groping would cease pretty quick.
posted by bwg at 5:41 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I wonder how much of the discomfort people are feeling is because we're more than a little provincial in the states.

I mean this sincerely: Thank you for sharing your viewpoint, but I don't see how it's relevant. It doesn't matter what reason people have for not wanting others to see them naked. Various reasons exist, and they are all pretty damn valid. I have reasons for not wanting people to invade my privacy and none of them are puritanical.
posted by odinsdream at 6:03 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


f one more smug asshole says "why don't you just take the train?" I will yank off my left shoe and beat you with it. For the vast majority of the country, THERE IS NO FUCKING TRAIN!

Take a fucking bus or rent a fucking car or ride a fucking horse.


Pfffft. Take a fucking private plane!


Best flying experience ever! Show up to the airport at the time you'd like to leave. Walk out onto the tarmac. Get on the plane. Fly. Get to destination. Get your bags out of the plane. Leave airport.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:07 PM on November 11, 2010


Best flying experience ever! Show up to the airport at the time you'd like to leave. Walk out onto the tarmac. Get on the plane. Fly. Get to destination. Get your bags out of the plane. Leave airport.

You left out the part where the Big Bopper and some other guys don't make it to the gig.
posted by The World Famous at 6:09 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


No. I will NOT be polite to TSA agents. By being polite, that increases the value of the job and increases the applicant pool. I want to make it difficult, and force them to raise wages. I want people to quit in frustration. That will force the upper management to reconsider their behavior and maybe stop this garbage. I want employees to sue management for their boneheaded policies. I do the same with telemarketers, I keep them on the line and make their job as difficult as possible. Someone doing an unjust job does not deserve civility, that's a hop and skip away from being complicit a la the Milgram Experiment.

In the future I fully intend on going commando through the checkpoint. I will absolutely look at the TSA agent square in the eye, refer him by the name on the nametag, and make moaning sounds LIKE A BOSS.
posted by amuseDetachment at 6:46 PM on November 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


I propose this game be called "TSA Gay Chicken". It's a really gay game, but I'm confident in my own sexuality to play it at the checkpoint -- I hope the TSA agents are as well.
posted by amuseDetachment at 6:52 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


No. I will NOT be polite to TSA agents. By being polite, that increases the value of the job and increases the applicant pool. I want to make it difficult, and force them to raise wages. I want people to quit in frustration. That will force the upper management to reconsider their behavior and maybe stop this garbage.

Obviously Harvard owes you a PhD in Labor Economics for this brilliant theory which will play out so so so well in the real world. Good God. Do your intellect a favor and talk to real people who are totally different than you rather than planning to terrorize people who are doing their jobs as they've been mandated, or else buy your own private plane and fly yourself wherever the hell you want to go. It's not fun to be on your feet all day, it's not fun to deal with angry people all day, and it's not fun to be the bad guy.

If you don't want to go through a scanner or get patted down, don't fly or go ahead and buy/rent your own plane. It's as simple as that. No one is forcing you to fly and it's wrong to openly disrespect people who are doing their jobs.

In the future I fully intend on going commando through the checkpoint. I will absolutely look at the TSA agent square in the eye, refer him by the name on the nametag, and make moaning sounds LIKE A BOSS.

You'll probably get in trouble for being lewd and harassing an employee, genius.

By the way, that's real original. I'm sure other people haven't thought of the exact same idea. You're so hilarious and so original.
posted by anniecat at 7:22 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This winter I will only be flying through airports that don't have body scanners installed.
posted by tomplus2 at 7:40 PM on November 11, 2010


elsietheeel wrote: "Best flying experience ever! Show up to the airport at the time you'd like to leave. Walk out onto the tarmac. Get on the plane. Fly. Get to destination. Get your bags out of the plane. Leave airport."

What, you walk to the plane? I drive out there and leave my rental car for the FBO people to deal with. The only way it could get better is if I had a driver. People will let me ride with them, but they never want to pay someone to drive me around. :(

Anniecat, the "don't fly" BS is just that, it's BS. It's just as annoying when you do that as when ridiculous right wingers say "if you don't like it, move to another country."
posted by wierdo at 7:43 PM on November 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


You left out the part where the Big Bopper and some other guys don't make it to the gig.

Well, there's that. Also don't look through the windshield when you're landing if you're at all scared of flying.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:54 PM on November 11, 2010


If you don't want to go through a scanner or get patted down, don't fly

So people living overseas, but with family in the States, our choices are a) submit to having a nude picture taken of us, b) allow someone to fondle our genitalia, or c) just give up and accept that never seeing our family again is just how the world works now?

I'd love to see my folks this winter. I really would. This shit? I'm seriously thinking of not going. Don't fly? Thanks for the advice.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:56 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


anniecat writes "If you don't want to go through a scanner or get patted down, don't fly or go ahead and buy/rent your own plane. It's as simple as that. No one is forcing you to fly and it's wrong to openly disrespect people who are doing their jobs. "

Is there any indignity that would cross the line with you? If Reid Prime tries to set a bath room on fire with a lighter and a bottle of lighter fluid he stuffed up his colon next week would you be "If you don't want to get a glove snapping full body cavity search don't fly"?
posted by Mitheral at 8:08 PM on November 11, 2010


Flight attendants union advises members to ask for a private screening with a witness, mulls lawsuit (YT)

The Atlantic: For the First Time, the TSA Meets Resistance

At BWI, I told the officer who directed me to the back-scatter that I preferred a pat-down. I did this in order to see how effective the manual search would be. When I made this request, a number of TSA officers, to my surprise, began laughing. I asked why. One of them -- the one who would eventually conduct my pat-down -- said that the rules were changing shortly, and that I would soon understand why the back-scatter was preferable to the manual search. I asked him if the new guidelines included a cavity search. "No way. You think Congress would allow that?"

I asked him if he was looking forward to conducting the full-on pat-downs. "Nobody's going to do it," he said, "once they find out that we're going to do."


In other words, people, when faced with a choice, will inevitably choose the Dick-Measuring Device over molestation? "That's what we're hoping for. We're trying to get everyone into the machine." He called over a colleague. "Tell him what you call the back-scatter," he said. "The Dick-Measuring Device," I said. "That's the truth," the other officer responded.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 9:07 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


'Are Any Parts of Your Body Sore?' Asks the Man From TSA

"People are cows," I say.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean they'll do whatever the federal government tells them to do," I say.

"How come you don't go through the machine?" he asks me.

I give him several more answers than he expected:
1) I prefer to limit my exposure to radiation, which the back-scatter imager produces;
2) I don't think this new technology will stop terrorism;
3) I find the idea of the government taking pictures of my genitalia a discomfiting invasion of privacy;
4) I find the specific pose a person is forced to take inside the machine -- hands up, as in a mugging -- particularly debasing.

"Okay," he says, "have a nice flight."

posted by thescientificmethhead at 9:19 PM on November 11, 2010


It occurs to me that I should mention that despite my complete opposition to the TSA, I've never had a problem with a TSO's attitude. A supervisor once decided to summon the police because we had a disagreement about whether something I was carrying was or was not a prohibited item, but that was in the early days when they still had Guardsmen carrying rifles around the terminals.

The actual TSOs have always been quite pleasant, even as I ask them to follow their rules to the letter. I have often had perfectly nice conversations with them. The only other FlyerTalk member I met while flying was a TSO, in fact.

It annoys me when people call them goons or are otherwise unpleasant. They're not the ones with whom I have a disagreement about my freedoms. Of course, I have yet to be subject to the new groping. That might sour my mood a little more than taking the frisk rather than removing my shoes or having to remind them that they have to keep my bags within my sight.

I've only had to file a complaint twice in several hundred trips through security.

Now, I think the TSA is almost completely a waste of money and that all the new procedures are just theater, but other than the strip search machine and perhaps the "enhanced" patdown, none of it is incredibly invasive. I find the things going on before you even reach the airport much more disturbing. The amount of data the government has on our travel habits is frightening at best. The fact they can ban a person from commercial air travel without recourse is disturbing.

The screeners provide the public a shiny thing to focus their anger and annoyance on, distracting them from the hideous nature of the underlying beast. I'm glad that the strip search machines have made people angry, but they're more than a little late to the party and focused on the distraction, not the trick.
posted by wierdo at 9:47 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Another potentially useful form of protest would be to start a pornsite for these images. Get the word out that people are wanking off to these nudie scans, that's the kind of "news" that today's US media loves to talk about. Own the talking points.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:29 PM on November 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


"You don't actually have to fly anywhere, do you? Couldn't you just find the cheapest ticket possible for that day, check in, go through security, and then go home? Or is that not allowed?"

Two things: Cheapest ticket to anywhere the day before Thanksgiving is still gonna be hella expensive, and I remember being on a flight where someone who had a ticket didn't show up and the flight staff freaked the fuck out and we had to transfer planes all of the sudden. I don't mind dicking with TSA goons (I'm of their class, I don't have to have any anxieties about making someone's job harder, because I can keep a decent sense of humor about it), but I wouldn't want to fuck with a whole plane full of people just trying to get to Gramma's before Uncle Jerry is too drunk to see the kids.
posted by klangklangston at 11:57 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


anniecat: I find it perfectly acceptable to disrespect people when their job is disrespecting me using a transportation method that has no alternatives (if you can find a roadtrip over the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans, get back to me). I don't care if they're "just doing their job". I'm absolutely sure it's "not fun to be the bad guy", the solution is to not do that job. If your job is to do immoral things like feel people up for an unjustified reason, then your job is immoral and it's perfectly reasonable for the general public to be hostile. It's understandable that this is a difficult labor market, but it'd be unreasonable to take the side of those taking contract killing jobs or drug dealers and making their work as difficult as possible.
posted by amuseDetachment at 12:00 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


... and against making their work as difficult as possible, rather.
posted by amuseDetachment at 12:03 AM on November 12, 2010


anniecat: If anybody should get to be upset, it's me

Why you and only you?
posted by 6550 at 1:32 AM on November 12, 2010


Once again this Wondermark cartoon strip proves itself relevant.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:58 AM on November 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


You don't actually have to fly anywhere, do you? Couldn't you just find the cheapest ticket possible for that day, check in, go through security, and then go home? Or is that not allowed?

If you check in to a flight, but then don't board the plane, it causes all kinds of delays. For your average traveler who gets too drunk at the airport bar and misses their flight, it means the staff have to remove their luggage from the plane, at the very minimum. Obviously in this case, you wouldn't be checking any luggage, but I think they would have to at least CHECK to make sure that you didn't check any luggage, since it would be seen as very suspicious behaviour.

Also, what klang said.
posted by antifuse at 7:44 AM on November 12, 2010


Dave Barry got his groin groped yesterday because the machine produced a blurry image of his groin. I think it was mugging for the camera.
posted by onhazier at 8:00 AM on November 12, 2010


Are you being molested if you willingly volunteer? I might just opt-out for the pat-down-with-happy-ending.
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 12:24 PM on November 12, 2010


I might just opt-out for the pat-down-with-happy-ending.

What? They're offering that? I might have to fly more often.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:45 PM on November 12, 2010


If you're "willingly" volunteering because you don't feel you have any other choice, it's not really "willingly" at all.
posted by antifuse at 12:48 PM on November 12, 2010


Thoughts:

1) So glad I'm not flying this Thanksgiving. It's slow enough waiting for people to take off their shoes.


That's all I can think about too. For the first time in 15 years or so, I'm not flying for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Anytime anyone brings up anything about the holidays or airplanes, all I can do is think about that and grin from ear to ear.

It would be cheaper and safer to just go back to taking our chances with the occasional hijacking.

Flashback to 9/12/01 and you could have heard me saying the same thing. It still makes sense $486 trillion later.

If bombers attacked one of those lines, or a bus, or subway, or any other crowded space it would be even more terrifying: no place would feel safe. This is exactly what they do in every other nation they strike.

This has vexed me for a long time too. Does anyone have any possible explanation? I can't think of one, aside from the fact that there just aren't many terrorists at all.

So is November 25th going to be National Post Bail Day? I mean, I'm all for it, but isn't one of the joys of the poorly defined role of the TSA that they can essentially bust anyone, anywhere, anytime, for doing just about anything? I mean, look how ridiculous actual, organized street protests are getting, and how many trumped up charges there are for things like that, just for being on the same street. In an airport? Best of luck.

I think you're missing the point. Getting arrested for doing nothing illegal would be success here.

I hope you got a new attorney?

I assumed it was an HST tribute.

I HAVE THE POWER! I HAVE THE POWER!
posted by mrgrimm at 3:54 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


NPR Blog coverage. It's linked from the front page of NPR right now.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:36 PM on November 12, 2010


Researchers at Johns Hopkins say this device could cause skin cancer. Pat down for me please.
posted by humanfont at 7:42 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


CNN: Growing backlash against TSA body scanners, pat-downs
posted by thescientificmethhead at 8:32 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If bombers attacked one of those lines, or a bus, or subway, or any other crowded space it would be even more terrifying: no place would feel safe. This is exactly what they do in every other nation they strike.

This has vexed me for a long time too. Does anyone have any possible explanation? I can't think of one, aside from the fact that there just aren't many terrorists at all.


Yeah. If you put all the security apparatus at the airports then Halliburton only has to write one contract. With the FAA. If you put it at all the bus depots and rail stations and locally owned ferry systems and crap they'd probably have to hire like, four people, to write all the contracts and it would cut into their profits.
posted by fshgrl at 12:24 AM on November 13, 2010


If you're "willingly" volunteering because you don't feel you have any other choice, it's not really "willingly" at all.

True, but I meant personally, I never buy a plane ticket unless I know I'm going to get my money's worth. I expect end-to-end value-added.
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 3:01 AM on November 13, 2010


mrgrimm wrote: "Flashback to 9/12/01 and you could have heard me saying the same thing. It still makes sense $486 trillion later."

Hey, it was a smart idea to require the airlines to install reinforced cockpit doors. Of course, that may well have been the only sensible security regulation enacted, but there was..one...
posted by wierdo at 11:51 AM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is there any indignity that would cross the line with you? If Reid Prime tries to set a bath room on fire with a lighter and a bottle of lighter fluid he stuffed up his colon next week would you be "If you don't want to get a glove snapping full body cavity search don't fly"?

Yeah, because I probably wouldn't fly, even though my family lives far away. Honestly, I fly to see extended family, fly for work very infrequently, and fly to India three times a year. In fact, I flew from BWI yesterday, went through the "pornoscanner" and it was no big deal. They kept swabbing my hands with something too. They are all very professional and they don't enjoy doing this, and frankly, as an Indian person who got pulled aside a lot every time I flew, and yesterday, having gone through the scanner was the first time I didn't get pulled aside in a long time. And EVERYBODY had to go through it, everybody's hands were swabbed twice with this weird device, and I finally felt like they were being fair. There was no reason whatsoever I should have ever been pulled aside more than those ridiculous white girls with bleached blonde hair and raccoon eye makeup, and it makes me feel better frankly that everyone is getting treated equally. Or else they're just going to go back to me and other Indians and brown-skinned people getting pulled aside.

Why don't I give a rat's ass? Because I've come to terms with gynecologists probing me with speculums and looking at my vagina, which I always hated and I used to not book gyn appointments because it felt embarrassing. But I'm going in there voluntary anyway, paying them for a service. Frankly at Planned Parenthood offices, you have to walk through a metal director, and I understand why they do it even though it's been awhile since someone's blown one up. Besides, what do I care who sees me naked? I've been naked in front of strangers in the gym locker room and at Filene's Basement. Is it really reasonable for me to be upset about this? It's just the human body.
posted by anniecat at 8:12 PM on November 13, 2010


I'm a little late to this party, but I've definitely been following the issue as it has dramatically increased in visibility and consequence over the last few days. I think Nov 24 will be a very interesting day in the media.

I'm posting here to make the one point I feel really strongly about: the "Lol I'm gonna pop a boner and grin suggestively at the TSA employee, amirite?" crowd is not contributing anything useful and in my opinion should desist.

It was a natural initial snark reaction when this issue started gaining traction, but at this point the joke has been made. The Viagra joke crew is doing nothing but trivializing this issue, which is very very serious, primarily to sexual abuse survivors and parents of young children, but also to any other American citizens concerned with how mandatory genital touching/viewing is suddenly government policy.

OK, we get it, boner joke, funny. Enough. I think the TSA employees do hold a certain amount of responsibility, in that they are going along with this policy. I don't think it's any kind of excuse for this policy to say "oh they are being very professional." At the same time, civil disobedience, properly executed, does not involve tit-for-tat humiliation of the employees humiliating you - that's not a plan that will get anyone to change their mind.

Also, anniecat, "It's just the human body? What do I care who sees me naked?" Seriously? I don't want to Godwin this discussion but that attitude is really disturbing to me. Good for you for being comfortable with your body, but come on, this isn't the same as taking a shower at the gym.

"Is it really reasonable for me to be upset about this?"
Yes, for God's sake, yes, it's entirely reasonable to be upset about this. It's invasive and totally uncalled for. As many others have noticed, evidence from TSA employees points to the enhanced patdown as a strategy to punish people who don't submit to the (potentially hazardous) backscatter scanner. This is absolutely a big deal, even if its application has not personally inconvenienced or upset you.
posted by chaff at 8:32 PM on November 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I fail to see why there isn't a visual strip search option for people who don't want to be nuked by x-rays or have their privates felt up.

After all, if TSA employees are OK with looking at your junk on a screen, why is a big deal IRL?
posted by unSane at 8:41 PM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


anniecat wrote: "I've been naked in front of strangers in the gym locker room and at Filene's Basement. Is it really reasonable for me to be upset about this? It's just the human body."

In those cases, you have the option of not doing that if you prefer. When the TSA does it, it is the government strip searching you as a precondition of getting on an airplane.

It's one thing to be naked because you want to or because you derive some benefit from it. It's another thing to be forced to do so for no particular reason other than that it makes Ma and Pa Kettle feel better.
posted by wierdo at 9:01 PM on November 13, 2010


In those cases, you have the option of not doing that if you prefer.

Again, take a bus or get a charter flight on a private plane if you don't want to deal with this. You're not entitled to flying commercial. Just because you bought and own a car doesn't mean you don't have to buy insurance or wear a seat belt. In fact, if you people stopped flying and airlines lost that revenue, they could send in some lobbyists to start dismantling intensive security checks.

Maybe a bunch of you can start up Air Metafilter if you want. Decide how much it bothers you really and act accordingly. But I'm guessing all of you guys who say you'll voluntarily do the pat down simply to be disgusting jerks to TSA workers will go through the scanner and chicken out. Because it bothers you in theory, and not in reality. In reality, everyone is busy, and has somewhere to go. In your head you fancy yourselves as intellectual and politically active people, but in reality, you know you aren't that invested because it's not humiliating for you -- it's just inconvenient. What you're really saying is, "Oh it's theater because I'm white." But you have no problem with non-whites being pulled aside. It's not theater then; it's about keeping white people safe from anybody who looks like they might be from a Muslim nation.

And I don't expect non-browns to understand why I'm glad the scanners are there, but I have no problem with this security stuff, primarily because you people ought to have been undergoing the same scrutiny and inconvenience I undergo as a brown person in the first place. I mean, it seems like the minute someone asks you to discard your water bottle, like everybody has to, you people start throwing tantrums and start pretending TSA is cuffing you and snatching your toddlers (all three liars were white, affluent women) and start making crazy claims to CNN and Good Morning America. I guess your sense of entitlement and privilege at not being treated like a suspect is being threatened, but join the club -- no one has any problem with brown people and foreigners being pulled aside and treated like criminals. So excuse me for not giving a crap about the inconvenience and outrage you people feel when I'm the one who has been treated like a terrorist by your ignorant redneck brethren since September 11, 2001.
posted by anniecat at 10:32 PM on November 13, 2010


anniecat at least one of the people against this idiocy is not white. Starting up Air Metafilter won't do jack because the TSA is a government program and not something airlines have any control over. Air Metafilter wouldn't be able to opt out.

It'll be interesting to see if this kind of security starts spreading. Walk through metal detectors are currently installed in court houses, churches, government building at all levels (city, state, federal), tourist attractions, stadiums, high schools, university dorms, office buildings, libraries, bus stations, and prisons to name a few. If back scatter devices become price competitive with metal detectors I can't see any reason they wouldn't be used as substitutes for metal detectors. It surely would suck to be groped everyday on your way to school, your residence or work.
posted by Mitheral at 11:52 PM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


anniecat at least one of the people against this idiocy is not white

But are they Indian, Pakistani, or Middle Eastern with accented English that makes people look at them as though they're extremely dangerous?

Starting up Air Metafilter won't do jack because the TSA is a government program and not something airlines have any control over. Air Metafilter wouldn't be able to opt out.


Donald Trump has to go through security before he gets on his plane? I'm talking non-commercial, private, small airplanes for a select group of people, like small ones that are always crashing into mountains. Or those balloons people ride in. How cool would you be if you floated home for Thanksgiving and landed on your lawn, dressed like a Thanksgiving turkey or a Pilgrim. Or for Christmas, dressed like Santa Claus? Think about it.
posted by anniecat at 1:25 AM on November 14, 2010


I'm talking non-commercial, private, small airplanes for a select group of people, like small ones that are always crashing into mountains.

You're probably a really decent person when you're not talking about airport security, but nevertheless I feel it's better for both of us if from now on I ignore everything you say.
posted by Ritchie at 3:50 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anniecat I think you are overfocusing on the anti-TSA OMG security theater folks and missing the growing chunk of people with legitimate health and safety concerns.
posted by humanfont at 4:53 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: "you people."
posted by ericb at 8:00 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


anniecat wrote: "Again, take a bus or get a charter flight on a private plane if you don't want to deal with this."

This bus that crosses oceans, it is a magic bus?

And yeah, I've taken many a patdown, and I've never felt the need to be disgusting to TSA people, thanks. As I mentioned earlier, my beef is with their bosses, not them. Thankfully, until next time I need to cross a body of water, I won't have to deal with their ridiculous theater.

Also, I think it's interesting you're willing to consign people to a greater risk of death for..absolutely nothing by telling them to take a bus, private car, or private aircraft.
posted by wierdo at 9:33 AM on November 14, 2010


Oh, and given the cost, I don't think it's reasonable to tell folks to take a private plane. My client's Learjet charters at something like $1800 an hour, and that doesn't count fuel. That's just for the plane and the pilot/copilot. And you get to pay for the trip from where it's based to whereever it is you're starting from. So about $5,000 before you even get on the plane.

No, I think that's pretty unreasonable to consign most of our society to being treated like criminals for absolutely no gain by anyone, including yourself.
posted by wierdo at 9:38 AM on November 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Department of Homeland Security said on Friday it is trying to address concerns of pilots about stepped-up screening at U.S. airports and worries in the travel industry that fliers will limit trips because of more rigorous checks.

"We certainly understand the challenges that DHS confronts, but the question remains, 'where do we draw the line'? Our country desperately needs a long-term vision for aviation security screening, rather than an endless reaction to yesterday's threat," the statement said. "At the same time, fundamental American values must be protected."

Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad was arrested after he boarded a plane headed for Dubai, though the government is spending millions each year on a program that's supposed to spot terrorists before they reach the gate. As CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports, the program doesn't seem to be working.

Revolt against TSA: Ban the body scanner?

posted by thescientificmethhead at 10:50 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would still like to hear whether it's the whole line or selected individuals who are going through the pornoscanner. Can someone let me know who's been through the lines?

I have two children. I am not sure I'm going to be able to sit quietly if the older one's breasts are cupped by someone from the TSA. And I'm not letting anyone take nude images of them.

I have had melanoma. No way I'm going through this piece of shit scanner.
posted by theredpen at 11:56 AM on November 14, 2010


Apart from the bullying mentioned by Flashman above, I'm not sure why this is just a one day thing. From November 25, everyone's meant to acquiese to this pointless charade?

I think the idea is to maximize the effect by having everybody do it on the same day & make it clear this is a movement of civil disobedience. It's also important to notice which day they chose, the day before Thanksgiving which is notoriously the busiest travel day of the year. It's guaranteed to amplify the effect even further by slowing down the process on the one day the system is at maximum stress. And it also minimizes the potential for reprisal because any action they take against refusniks would overload the system even more, all on the day they can least afford it. Or as Arlo Guthrie famously said,
And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

And that's what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement.
I'm pretty sure a little guy named Ghandi said something along the same lines.
posted by scalefree at 12:38 PM on November 14, 2010


I would still like to hear whether it's the whole line or selected individuals who are going through the pornoscanner. Can someone let me know who's been through the lines?

At LAX and BWI it seems pretty universal. At other airports it has been on a case by case basis. I'm flying out off BWI at 545 am tomorrow. Plan to opt out which means get up at like 3am. I've been scanned quite a few this year and gropped as well. It it's 50% chance of pay down anyway why bother with the cancer machine.
posted by humanfont at 1:18 PM on November 14, 2010


But you have no problem with non-whites being pulled aside.

I'm not going to respond fully to every point of your post anniecat, I'm sure we just aren't going to see eye to eye on most of it, but I do have to take issue with your characterization of my and others objections to these procedures as just priveleged white people throwing hissy fits.

You're comparing forced genital touching and/or visual strip searching of random citizens, with no consideration of the psychological impact on children and abuse survivors, to being forced to throw away your water bottle, and that's not a legitimate equivalency.

I'm sorry you've been subjected to racial profiling, that really sucks. I have no problem going through a metal detector, or even having someone look through my luggage, or filling out forms and answering questions. This is a massive leap beyond any of that, and I'm dumbfounded that many people are not particularly alarmed. If this works out OK at airports, if there's not much protest, I really think we might start seeing these things crop up at the entrances to schools, malls, and other public facilities.

Maybe you are OK with that but I am not.
posted by chaff at 1:28 PM on November 14, 2010 [13 favorites]


Thanks for this post, and all the incredibly valuable links throughout. I'd heard of the new scanners, but hadn't yet formed an opinion. Now I have.

One thing I'm not sure about: I tend to wear skirts. When I opt out of the pornoscanner, are they going to feel up my leg, under my skirt? Yeeuck.
posted by meese at 2:01 PM on November 14, 2010


... you people ...

Jesus fuck... we're not your enemy on this site. I'm sorry for your inconvenience, and I'm especially sorry that it's all been for nothing, but goddamn we're not the people inconveniencing you.
posted by odinsdream at 2:08 PM on November 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


At LAX and BWI it seems pretty universal. At other airports it has been on a case by case basis.

Thanks, humanfont!
posted by theredpen at 3:09 PM on November 14, 2010


TSA encounter at SAN

This morning, I tried to fly out of San Diego International Airport but was refused by the TSA. I had been somewhat prepared for this eventuality. I have been reading about the millimeter wave and backscatter x-ray machines and the possible harm to health as well as the vivid pictures they create of people's naked bodies. Not wanting to go through them, I had done my research on the TSA's website prior to traveling to see if SAN had them. From all indications, they did not. When I arrived at the security line, I found that the TSA's website was out of date. SAN does in fact utilize backscatter x-ray machines.

posted by thescientificmethhead at 6:19 PM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not surprised that fellow wasn't allowed on a plane since he refused to submit to the molestation. Good on him for refusing, though!

Did they actually change policy regarding voluntary withdrawal from the screening area, or was that TSA "manager" just full of shit? Also, I thought the fines were for bringing contraband, not refusing to submit to the search. If they do try to fine him, it could be a very interesting test case, since they didn't find any contraband.

I seem to recall that back in the hazy days when the security checkpoints were first implemented after the first wave of hijackings there was a Supreme Court decision that seemed to indicate that the reason they found the checkpoints constitutional was that it was voluntary and that one could withdraw from the area and not be searched.
posted by wierdo at 9:06 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I went through security just a bit ago. I must report no ball groping, ass pinching or cock fondling. I was all set to drop my trousers and sing the national anthem, instead I got courtesy and helpfulness. The romance of air travel is gone.
posted by humanfont at 2:08 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm honestly confused after seeing this thing (TSA Screener Accosts 3 Year Old Child at Security Checkpoint ).

The pornoscan doesn't work properly if the subject doesn't stay still, right? So ... does this mean that every fidgety child (which is about 99% of them, yes?) is going to get the whole invasive patdown? Genital touching for all toddlers? And all infants since they can't even stand on their own? How much touching is going to have to happen to determine if the load in the diaper is poop or plastic explosives? I mean that's just the little kids... but... wow, parents are going to be okay with letting their adolescent kids be manhandled and groped, or have their naked pictures taken in a machine that many scientists don't feel is safe?

I'm just not seeing how this will be accepted. Will this be accepted? It boggles my mind. It boggles my mind for the rest of us, too, but I can't imagine parents sitting still for this.
posted by taz at 3:20 AM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Moan softly and whisper. Call them by name. Yes, James, God yes. Mmmmmmm you're so good at that. A little higher and to the left. Oh Jesus fuck I'm so close. When they're done, call them a tease. Offer to tip.

I'd totally do this. But I'm afraid it would get even worse if a lot of people start doing this - TSA would implement a new measure telling people they have to stay be quiet during gropings. "Stay completely silent while we grope you and your genitals, and don't say a single word."
posted by raztaj at 5:58 AM on November 15, 2010


taz, I have an adolescent child and I'm not sure I can stand there politely while she's felt up by a TSA agent at Logan. I think that age is kind of tough in the self-consciousness department and it does go against the whole "no one can touch you except a doctor" lesson.

But I'm not sure I have an option besides not flying, and I'd like to see my family. I don't like this trapped feeling.
posted by theredpen at 6:24 AM on November 15, 2010


taz, some of us are NOT ok with this at all.

I've written to the TSA Ombudsman, both of my senators and Secretary Janet Napolitano expressing my concerns. I've asked my senators to bring pressure to bear against the advanced pat downs, particularly against children. I've asked the other two what they advise a parent do when faced with a potential pat down of a minor, particularly one previously traumatized by physical or sexual abuse. I've also copied my letter to the senators and shared it with the other foster parents on a forum to which I belong, encouraging them to express their concerns as well.

Since I'm not flying anytime soon with my children, I'm not sure what else I can do to help bring a stop to this. Does anyone know what all we can do?
posted by onhazier at 8:36 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm honestly confused after seeing this thing (TSA Screener Accosts 3 Year Old Child at Security Checkpoint ).

Thanks. Nice video for parental nightmares.

The event is colored for me by the fact that the reporter's daughter was the subject/victim. If it were your daughter, would you really film that event and not stop it? (If he wasn't filming, who was?) Could you film it?

Also, just thinking about it makes me mad, because really, would you record that event and broadcast it on the local news?! "Jeez, thanks dad. The event itself wasn't traumatic enough; let's save it for posterity and share it with the greater metro area."

I know it's easier to talk than to actually do something, but I'm damn sure I would have stopped whatever the hell was going on there and said "no, thank you, we're not going through security right now, can we have our things back," and take my daughter away from the whole scene. (Again, reporter's kid, we don't know the whole story, etc.)

If it's a matter of life or death or major financial strain that you have to travel at that very instant, well, then let's take a fucking second to collect our thoughts and take a few deep breaths. (Again, we don't know what preceded the event.)

...

Genital touching for all toddlers?

I'm just not seeing how this will be accepted. Will this be accepted?

It's already been accepted. That doesn't mean that it still can't be rejected.

I don't like the whole security charade and particularly this new technology, but if you want to fly in the US, apparently you don't have a choice. So you deal the best you can, or you don't fly. (Trains?)

I agree it's a serious concern. My 2yo has a major issue with personal space. She doesn't like other kids, even babies touching her, let alone large men or women in blue rubber gloves.

However, have you ever been to a rock concert? Sure, some let you in with no fuss, and you can record the whole thing and make a bootleg, but I've been frisked down at a few shows, sometimes pretty heavily.

No, rock shows aren't like airports, and no, 3yos don't go to rock shows, but you get the point.

If you want to challenge the whole structure and regulation of commerical air travel, I'm with you, but if I have to fly, I'll take the pat down and prepare my family for it.

As someone who's been the subject of more pat-downs (police and security) than I care to share, let me tell you there are different sorts of pat-downs. If these are the standard professional rock-show style pat-downs, there is no groping involved.

And if groping does occur, you know it, and you make some noise.

tl;dr: the end of the CW39 News video you linked has some good advice that I hadn't thought of:
Next time you fly, ask the ticket desk if your child under 12 years old was randomly selected to be screened with a pat-down or hand-held metal detector. If a code is on your child's boarding pass, ask to be deselected, which could mean no search...
I suppose that doesn't help with security systems that use pornoscanners and everybody gets pat-downs, but perhaps good advice nonetheless.

It is such a fucked up situation though. We tell kids not to let anyone touch them in their private areas ... except certain figures of authority with little training or skill. I'm pretty sure that kids under 5 don't need to be patted down or pornoscanned.

...

If the end result of our civilization is babies with bombs strapped to their groins, we deserve whatever havoc that the cutest artillery in the history of the world will inflict.

...

Trains?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:40 AM on November 15, 2010


I wanted to include that onhazier has a really good point that I haven't seen addressed anywhere. But I forgot.

As someone with friends who have been sexually assaulted, I honestly think most if not all of them would opt for the pornoscan, which, again is unfortunate. (Some would be OK with pat downs.) Of course, I am not them.

I think there might be a technological solution here somewhere, but the pornoscanner isn't it.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:47 AM on November 15, 2010


And I don't expect non-browns to understand why I'm glad the scanners are there, but I have no problem with this security stuff, primarily because you people ought to have been undergoing the same scrutiny and inconvenience I undergo as a brown person in the first place. I mean, it seems like the minute someone asks you to discard your water bottle, like everybody has to, you people start throwing tantrums and start pretending TSA is cuffing you and snatching your toddlers (all three liars were white, affluent women) and start making crazy claims to CNN and Good Morning America. I guess your sense of entitlement and privilege at not being treated like a suspect is being threatened, but join the club -- no one has any problem with brown people and foreigners being pulled aside and treated like criminals. So excuse me for not giving a crap about the inconvenience and outrage you people feel when I'm the one who has been treated like a terrorist by your ignorant redneck brethren since September 11, 2001.

Holy shit. You do realize that 99% of the people here who read your comment are vehemently opposed to any sort of discrimination at all, let alone institutionalized profiling, right? No one should have ever been subjected to any of this bullshit, regardless of their ethnicity. Just because it's universally enforced now does NOT make it right in the first place.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:23 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Enough with the trains, already. (Nothing on you, mrgrimm, it's a general comment.) Yes, many of us will make alternate travel arrangements. When we can, which is cold comfort if your family lives three days' drive away.

No: the point is to stand up for our and our fellows' modesty, dignity and liberty, even if ours isn't being assaulted right this very moment, or we can get around it, or whatever.

Popping boner jokes; telling people to stop whining and take the train; it's-no-big-deal-I've-had-worse comments -- enough already with this juvenile, fearful rationalizing. I don't need to take the train. I need the TSA to stop fondling me and my fellow travelers.

(Also, I want my damn bottle of water.)
posted by slab_lizard at 9:50 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Trains" was both a joke (most people can't or won't) and not a joke (more people should).

Air travel and climate chage: Take the train

"Cut your CO2 emissions by taking the train, by up to 90%"

While the rest of us snap up £1.99 flights to Rome, a small but growing band of conscientious objectors are making a stand by refusing to fly.

(This carbon footprint calculator doesn't seem to think air travel is that big a deal. Depressingly, I live fairly simply and don't drive and still use 3.2x more resources than 1 planet can support.)

I'm sure if/once trains become popular, we'll all get pornoscanned there too before we get on board.

(Or is the fact that airplanes can crash into buildings (or power plants, or bridges, etc.) the reason why airport security is so hyperbolic?)

Popping boner jokes; telling people to stop whining and take the train; it's-no-big-deal-I've-had-worse comments

I'm not rationalizing at all. I'm being practical. I like airport security shenanigans less than most people, but what can we practically do? I would rather get arrested than never be able to fly again. I want my daughter to see her grandma. That's the situation. So what do I do?

The problem is that they've got our nuts over a barrel because people would be willing to submit to a whole lot more than pornoscans and pat downs before they quit flying. I bet more than half of air travelers would be OK with naked searches. That's why I suggest investing in a solid electric train infrastructure now (or actually, 25+ years ago), unless the popularity of such transport would inspire the same shenanigans. (It'd still be worth it for the energy savings.)

A Northern California - Southern California high-speed train is a no brainer. But the fact that it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean you can't take a train from San Francisco (er, Oakland) to Los Angeles (er, San Jose, and then a bus to San Louis Obispo, and then a train to LA) for $64.

Sure, it takes 12 hours. But it still beats flying. Now imagine you could take a train from LA to NYC in 1 day. Crazy? Current Acela trains (northeast) top out at 150 mph, and they average about half that. 75mph would be about 32 hours from LA to NYC; 1 day is certainly feasible.

Maybe not so far off. FRA: $2.4 Billion for High Speed Rail Projects.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:59 AM on November 15, 2010


For fuck's sake, enough with the train shit already. I've not heard a single person say they refuse to take trains and would rather fly. In fact, I've heard exactly the opposite; people in this thread, myself included, would gladly take non-air travel if it's an option, and frequently do.

I just don't even begin to understand why people are going on this derail when literally no one has refused to take a train. It just isn't an option unless you're traveling between very specific destinations on the east and west coasts.
posted by odinsdream at 11:32 AM on November 15, 2010


I suspect that if everyone refused the pornoscanner and INSISTED on a penetrating pat-down, the scanners would be gone in no time.
posted by Twang at 11:45 AM on November 15, 2010


I am also annoyed by the constant "then don't fly!" reactions I've seen elsewhere in comments to articles on this topic. Up yours. Flying might not be a "right," but the Fourth Amendment says I do have rights, and nude photos and genital touching shouldn't be a precondition, either.
posted by theredpen at 1:34 PM on November 15, 2010


Acela trains (northeast) top out at 150 mph, and they average about half that.

Yeah ... they slow down to 90 m.p.h./75 m.p.h between New Haven, CT and New Rochelle, NY. A new, dedicated rail track would need to be built. I'm all for that!
posted by ericb at 1:39 PM on November 15, 2010


I think there might be a technological solution here somewhere, but the pornoscanner isn't it.

Technological solution to what? For it to be a solution, there has to be a problem it solves. I can't detect a problem that any of this activity is useful for solving. In all the aborted incidents that we've read about, this kind of screening played no role. We've heard about good intelligence thwarting attacks, about fellow passengers thwarting attacks, and former collaborators ratting out potential attackers, but I'm not sure that the screening has demonstrably revealed or prevented any attacks. In my opinion, the solution is non-technological: stop the stupid.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:43 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


A new, dedicated rail track would need to be built.

Well, we can't do that. No new taxes, amirite?
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:44 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


For fuck's sake, enough with the train shit already.

Why? Trains are great!
posted by mrgrimm at 2:47 PM on November 15, 2010


It just isn't an option unless you're traveling between very specific destinations on the east and west coasts.

But it should be.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:47 PM on November 15, 2010


I keep meaning to stop posting. But now I see that some people are getting felt up INSIDE their clothes? I just can't believe this, now. Some of the reports have TSA agents inserting a finger inside people's waistbands. Jesus christ!
posted by theredpen at 2:57 PM on November 15, 2010


I've not heard a single person say they refuse to take trains and would rather fly.

I'm curious. Would you take a $64 train-bus-train combo from SF to LA? Or would you pay $139 to fly? Popular opinion casts anyone who chooses the former as indigent or stupid.

For it to be a solution, there has to be a problem it solves.

19 people hijacking 4 planes, then crashing 2 of them into the World Trade Centers, 1 of them into the Pentagon, and 1 into a field in Pennsylvania. Supposedly.

Much more importantly, and the whole reason I started reading this fucking post:

Has anyone had any success smuggling marijuana through either a pornoscanner or pat down? What's the best way to do it: shove it up my asshole and take the pat down? If it's impossible, I'll have to trust the USPS not to look in the box.

Well, we can't do that. No new taxes, amirite?

Even if we can't pass any new taxes (or revoke the current tax cuts), I have a feeling we could find some money to cut from the defense budget. A sound environmental policy is the best form of national defense.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:00 PM on November 15, 2010


Forgot to link to one of the underwear groping links:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/11/12/920158/-TSAs-Super-Frisky-Pat-downs-Heat-Up-Pilots-and-Travel-Industry
posted by theredpen at 3:03 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fucked up. I'll amend my position. If you want to fly, submit to the pat down, then file a lawsuit.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:15 PM on November 15, 2010


(BTW, mrgrimm, my ranting wasn't aimed at you specifically -- there were commenters on CNN or somewhere who were getting super snotty in a "well then you just don't get to fly, do you? you terrorist helper!" way. For the record, I love trains. They're just not currently as convenient. I looked into rail tickets -- they were a little more expensive and took as long as driving. If it were a little more efficient, I would have done that. I hope someday we are able to take that suggestion, including the whole country.) (And I'd try UPS. That wasn't what I meant when I said "up yours." :) )
posted by theredpen at 3:54 PM on November 15, 2010


Not that anyone reads down here...but wouldn't it be a good idea to create a clearinghouse for inappropriate behavior by TSA employees? Date, time, name of employee (if known), employee number, airport, description of behavior.

Failing that, I suppose, victims of TSA misbehavior ought to just blog about it and let Google take care of the rest.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:28 PM on November 15, 2010


OMDTLP: "...wouldn't it be a good idea to create a clearinghouse for inappropriate behavior by TSA employees? Date, time, name of employee (if known), employee number, airport, description of behavior."

It's unclear if this is what the ACLU is doing, but that organization is soliciting traveler's experiences / complaints with the scan-n-fondle regime in place.

I know this horse is dead, but I'll take another whack: There's an organization actively litigating to stop the scanners. One can find it by Googling "epic scanners." One can, if one chooses, donate to the cause.
posted by slab_lizard at 6:13 PM on November 15, 2010


But it should be.

We're on the same page, man. I would love it if I had options to take trains anywhere. That would be splendid. That's not the case, though. My complaint with the train derail is that nobody in this thread, as far as I can tell, is saying they hate trains and would avoid trains if they were an option.

I'm curious. Would you take a $64 train-bus-train combo from SF to LA? Or would you pay $139 to fly?

I would pay double, perhaps triple, for the non-air travel option if it exists. I fucking hate flying. And yet, next week we'll be on a fucking plane, because there is no goddamn train option for that trip.

19 people hijacking 4 planes, then crashing 2 of them into the World Trade Centers, 1 of them into the Pentagon, and 1 into a field in Pennsylvania. Supposedly.

And those guys went through security, and they would be able to go through today's security, too. They'd just choose a different weapon, or hide it more effectively. The solution to this problem has already been implemented: reinforced cockpit doors. These are a perfect example of security that is reasonable, effective and unsurprisingly simple.
posted by odinsdream at 6:32 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Despite United Ostomy Association Card, 81-Year-Old Woman’s Stoma Bag Patted Down at Airport

There's an organization actively litigating to stop the scanners. One can find it by Googling "epic scanners."

Link is here.
EPIC has filed a lawsuit to suspend the deployment of body scanners at US airports, pending an independent review. On July 2, 2010, EPIC filed a petition for review and motion for an emergency stay, urging the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to suspend the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) full body scanner program. EPIC said that the program is "unlawful, invasive, and ineffective." EPIC argued that the federal agency has violated the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Fourth Amendment. EPIC cited the invasive nature of the devices, the TSA's disregard of public opinion, and the impact on religious freedom.
posted by scody at 6:50 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Israelification – High security, little bother.
posted by unliteral at 8:02 PM on November 15, 2010


So...I really, really am not a fan of the scanner, but frankly the patdown makes me a lot more uncomfortable, and I'm not sure if insisting on it as a protest move sends the right message. Do other people feel the same way I do about this (i.e. groping is way creepier than scanner), but endorse the protest just to cause trouble at the airport and make the TSA rethink the whole policy, or are the people planning in participating in this legitimately more upset by the scanner? What happens if the protests successfully eliminate the scanners and they just hire a bunch more staff to grope people all day? Am I the only one who would be even more pissed?
posted by naoko at 9:14 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah — winning hearts and minds: TSA to investigate body scan resister
The Transportation Security Administration has opened an investigation targeting John Tyner, the Oceanside man who left Lindbergh Field under duress on Saturday morning after refusing to undertake a full body scan. . . . Michael J. Aguilar, chief of the TSA office in San Diego, called a news conference at the airport Monday afternoon to announce the probe. He said the investigation could lead to prosecution and civil penalties of up to $11,000.
Surely this will convince people that the TSA is on our side. First the grope, and then the probe.
posted by taz at 9:14 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Video of TSA Screener Accosting 3 Year Old Child at Security Checkpoint
posted by homunculus at 9:28 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's very worthwhile to carefully read this (short) PDF from actual scientists, including John Sedat, professor-emeritus of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, SF, which warns the whitehouse of "serious potential health risks" from the back scatter scanner. (I think amuseDetachement's link upthread addresses this, but for some reason I can't access it right now.) These recognized experts especially warn about dangers related to the following "red-flag" items:
• A) The large population of older travelers, >65 years of age, is particularly at risk from the mutagenic effects of the X-rays based on the known biology of
melanocyte aging.
• B) A fraction of the female population is especially sensitive to mutagenesis provoking
radiation leading to breast cancer. Notably, because these women, who have defects in DNA repair mechanisms, are particularly prone to cancer, X-ray mammograms are not performed on them. The dose to breast tissue beneath the skin represents a similar risk.
• C) Blood (white blood cells) perfusing the skin is also at risk.
• D) The population of immunocompromised individuals--HIV and cancer patients (see above) is likely to be at risk for cancer induction by the high skin dose.
• E) The risk of radiation emission to children and adolescents does not appear to have been fully evaluated.
• F) The policy towards pregnant women needs to be defined once the theoretical risks to the fetus are determined.
• G) Because of the proximity of the testicles to skin, this tissue is at risk for sperm mutagenesis.
• H) Have the effects of the radiation on the cornea and thymus been determined?
So, not really that much to worry about unless you are over 65, or a child/adolescent, or pregnant, or immunocompromised, or possibly if you have breasts or testicles. Also, it may not be that great for those with corneas, thymus, or white blood cells. Especially if TSA agents ramp up the resolution to get the best possible image of your hot/funny-looking/suspicious bod. But we can probably trust them not to do that, right?

But even though we can rest assured that they are perfectly trustworthy, "Any glitch in power at any point in the hardware (or more importantly in software) that stops the device could cause an intense radiation dose to a single spot on the skin."

Alrighty, then!
posted by taz at 10:32 PM on November 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


Also please note that it's not "OMG RADIATION CAUSES AUTISM" that bugs me about these things - it's that even fully tested, deployed medical devices have had serious problems with regard to overdoses of radiation. I'm not about to trust a device that hasn't gone through any of these checks, isn't operated by medical staff, isn't regularly tested, and whose manufacturers are ensured a market due to their close ties to the government body buying the machines.

This seems like a no-brainer - there's no reason to assume these devices are safe.
posted by odinsdream at 4:54 AM on November 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I generally don't jump on the "OMGRADIATION!" bandwagon, but I find myself in agreement with odinsdream. I think the machines are terrible from a privacy perspective, but I also would be unsurprised to find they haven't been well tested on the safety front. The intended dose is probably perfectly safe, but who knows whether the scanners are delivering the intended dose or not?
posted by wierdo at 6:26 AM on November 16, 2010


I also would be unsurprised to find they haven't been well tested on the safety front.

Always wait for the second-generation device.

What happens if the protests successfully eliminate the scanners and they just hire a bunch more staff to grope people all day? Am I the only one who would be even more pissed?

I think this question is very valid and unanswered here or elsewhere.

Isn't it possible that one side effect of this protest will mean that everyone gets groped? I wouldn't want that either, but then again, that's what essentially I'm consigning us to when I opt out of the pornoscanner.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:51 AM on November 16, 2010


Under normal circumstances, if I have the option of being groped by a stranger or having a naked picture of me taken (and likely ignored), I'd go with the latter.

However, given the particular reason why I'm forced to make this choice, I believe it is preferable to go with the groping.

So, yeah, I don't want to be groped. But, circumstances have just made it politically preferable to be groped rather than photographed in this way.
posted by meese at 7:58 AM on November 16, 2010


One Hundred Naked Citizens: One Hundred Leaked Body Scans
posted by homunculus at 8:46 AM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


TSA Now Putting Hands Down Fliers’ Pants
posted by thescientificmethhead at 1:43 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another one from a colon cancer discussion forum I frequent: cancer survivor is strip-searched after TSA employees detect her colostomy bag but don't understand what it is even after she explains.
posted by scody at 6:38 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clearly living in a 9/10 world:
"I don't know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747," Rafi Sela told parliamentarians probing the state of aviation safety in Canada.

"That's why we haven't put them in our airport," Sela said, referring to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport, which has some of the toughest security in the world.
It's obvious that this man is soft on terror, the question is, does groping go far enough? I think TSA-administered colonoscopies are simply the responsible thing to do if we're going to keep Americans safe from terror.
posted by mullingitover at 1:05 AM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I got the inside the waistband post-pornoscanner grope the other day at BOS. Apparently wearing a belt through the scanner constitutes anomalous behavior which requires further screening.

I was rushing to catch a connection and didn't even really have an opportunity to opt out of the scan, but if they're going to stick their hands inside my pants anyway, why bother?
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:02 AM on November 17, 2010


I'm feeling a little sick now. Must stop checking this thread.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:57 AM on November 17, 2010


The head of the TSA is speaking before Congress right now, I'm watching it live on cnn.com.
posted by Gator at 6:58 AM on November 17, 2010


"That's why we haven't put them in our airport," Sela said, referring to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport, which has some of the toughest security in the world.

Last time through Ben Gurion is got an actual strip search. So I guess we could go with that policy.
posted by humanfont at 7:14 AM on November 17, 2010


TSA oversight hearing live now.
posted by 8dot3 at 7:30 AM on November 17, 2010


God, what a wanker.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:01 AM on November 17, 2010


STICK FIGURES? Are you KIDDING me? You expect us to believe that you're working hard to advance the technology so that it will show LESS detail instead of MORE?

Stick figures. With a straight face.
posted by Gator at 8:19 AM on November 17, 2010


Taiwanese animation depiction of the current airport security issues
posted by grouse at 8:44 AM on November 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Flying again today no grope.
posted by humanfont at 9:02 AM on November 17, 2010


On the other hand there was a guy in the lounge who was shouting obscenities into his phone at the customer service after getting a pat down, "you don't understand these people touched my penis. I want to file a complaint. Don't laugh at me miss. This is fucking bullshit. The guy touched my dick. Are you telling me they can just grab my penis? Ive got a first class ticket, its this how you treat your customers. I'm sorry your right I shouldn't use obscentity.....". I had to go away, no one knows how the story will end.
posted by humanfont at 9:25 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lawsuit: Airport search indecent

An Amarillo woman is suing the federal government for intentional infliction of emotional distress after Transportation Security Administration agents allegedly humiliated the woman when her breasts were publicly exposed during an "extended search" two years ago at a Corpus Christi airport.

Dudes to TSA: Don't Touch that Junk!

Tyner isn't the first person to object to the creepy pat downs, but he's one in a string of men whose stands against on TSA groping have stirred up a lot of anger. The New York Times' Joe Sharkey and the Atlantic's Jeffery Goldberg also went through the process, which some observers consider a punitive measure. Sharkey's opt-out request resulted in loud, embarrassing shouts of "opt-out!" by the agents—and despite TSA claims that the new body scanners do not produce graphic images, Goldberg discovered that agents at the Baltimore airport refer to it as a "dick-measuring device."
posted by thescientificmethhead at 10:55 AM on November 17, 2010


The discussion has come to this.
posted by Xurando at 11:13 AM on November 17, 2010


Finally, a TSA success story. Be informed and talk to the people around you.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:20 AM on November 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to find exact, specific information from the TSA about what is and is not permissible during a pat-down. I am traveling this week and I wanted to print out and bring with me the guidelines in case I get someone enthusiastic.
I do not see this info anywhere on the TSA site - any suggestions?
posted by 8dot3 at 11:33 AM on November 17, 2010


I don't think you'll find anything publicly available. If you watched that stupid "hearing" with the head of the TSA earlier, he specifically refused to go into detail about that very thing when questioned on it, because he didn't want to help the terrorists figure out how to conceal things by spelling out exactly what the procedures are.
posted by Gator at 11:42 AM on November 17, 2010


Rep. Duncan Blasts TSA "Pat Downs," Scanners on House Floor
posted by thescientificmethhead at 11:46 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


they are designed to rob people of their dignity and remind them (whether they are selected for secondary screening or not, as the threat of such always looms) that they are not as free to move about as they might like to think they are

Amen to this, hal. Nation states are prisons, we are all in jail.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:33 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I propose we all refer to TSA agents as "cavity creeps" from now on.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:17 PM on November 17, 2010


I sense T-shirt opportunities in that idea. Perhaps involving the "not" symbol.
posted by Gator at 1:22 PM on November 17, 2010


New Jersey lawmakers take on the TSA.
posted by ericb at 1:25 PM on November 17, 2010


i actually DON'T think the "outcry" will do any good, and i don't think sales will be harmed long-term even if they are harmed short-term. Americans are exceptionally good at just not giving a damn if something happens for more than a month. we'll piss away any freedoms we can to not have to wait in a line because we are, by and large, exceptionally entitled and we don't feel like princesses if we're not flying through the sky and bitching about it, too.

there will be a core audience of fliers who simply can't not fly and still have productive careers, and they will tolerate the invasion so that they can continue working. they'll be a large enough group that the rest of the country will slowly (or not-so-slowly) come in line with their way of thinking and the concession will seem so harmless when the trade is having to drive all the way to ____________ for the ____________.

we do not care about anything. we will not fight for anything. we will concede anything to just get on with our day. and after a not-long period of concession, it'll just slowly pass into law anyhow with some catchy name like The Alaska Sarah Palin Freedom Bible Flight Safety-Cupping Stars And Stripes Anti-Terrorism Act that lets us waterboard people who express the desire to not be groped as they are obviously anti-American and probably out to kill us all with their shoes.

we're very, very dumb. the utter uselessness of this process is amply demonstrable, and it simply doesn't matter.
posted by radiosilents at 1:25 PM on November 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I sense T-shirt opportunities in that idea. Perhaps involving the "not" symbol.

Like the 'We Won't Fly' logo.
posted by ericb at 1:29 PM on November 17, 2010


i actually DON'T think the "outcry" will do any good, and i don't think sales will be harmed long-term even if they are harmed short-term.

I agree.

Poll: 81% Support Full-Body Airport Scanners.
posted by ericb at 1:33 PM on November 17, 2010


New Jersey lawmakers take on the TSA.

That was pretty cool. Hope something substantial comes out of it.
posted by Gator at 1:45 PM on November 17, 2010


New Jersey lawmakers take on the TSA.

Press Release: New Jersey State Senators Introduce Resolution Calling on U.S. Congress to Reconsider TSA Screening Procedures.
posted by ericb at 1:50 PM on November 17, 2010


I've been looking at more of the scanner pictures and am wondering if anyone who has been through an airport recently can clarify something for me: in a lot (although not all) or the pictures, the people being scanned have their arms lifted above their heads - is this standard procedure? I am curious because I am unable to lift one of my arms as high as shown in these pictures (had bone cancer in my shoulder).
posted by naoko at 2:10 PM on November 17, 2010


...the people being scanned have their arms lifted above their heads - is this standard procedure?

Yes. It is standard procedure.
"To undergo the scan, which utilizes backscatter technology, passengers step between two booths, turn to the side, and raise their hands above their heads. A slightly blurred black and white image of the traveler’s body pops up on a screen viewed by a Transportation Security Administration agent in a separate location.

If something out of the ordinary is detected, the agent radios the TSA worker at the scanner to have the passenger searched. For privacy reasons, the agent with the passenger never sees the passenger’s image, and the agent viewing the image never sees the passenger. The process takes less than 20 seconds."
Most/many of the U.S. airports are using the Rapiscan Secure 1000 Single Pose scanners.
posted by ericb at 2:18 PM on November 17, 2010


Great.
posted by naoko at 2:25 PM on November 17, 2010


Poll: 81% Support Full-Body Airport Scanners.

When it comes to American politics... If a majority of voters reasonably decide that something should be made law, there's no chance it will happen. But if a minority of voters can get scream loudly enough that something should be made law, there's no limit to what can be done.

Just so happens, that minority screaming loudly this time happens to be right.
posted by meese at 2:25 PM on November 17, 2010


Poll: 81% Support Full-Body Airport Scanners.

Yeeeeeeeeeah, I notice that "Blogger Bob" is crowing about that on the TSA blog, too. (Is it just me, or is he getting increasingly defensive with his posts lately?)

But here's the thing, if you look at the PDF of the actual poll on the CBS news site, the actual question that people were asked was this: "Some airports are now using 'full-body' digital x-ray machines to electronically screen passengers in airport security lines. Do you think these new x-ray machines should or should not be used at airports?" I could be overthinking this, but it seems to me that when the average person* hears "x-ray," they're thinking of the kind you get in a hospital, that shows your bones. The question doesn't reveal that this particular kind of x-ray can see your naked body. I wonder what the response would be if the question were more specific about that insignificant little detail.

*By "average person," I'm referring to Joe Meatball, Sally Housecoat, and Eddie Punchclock, who don't spend much time watching national news or discussing privacy and civil liberties issues online.
posted by Gator at 2:35 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a new phrase just coined: "gate rape". Pass it on.
posted by scalefree at 2:56 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a feeling that the pro security scanner poll is the result of a badly worded question and the fact that most people don't understand yet what this is really going to mean. As more people understand the potential health effects and start to see the pat downs, it is going to shift.
posted by humanfont at 4:08 PM on November 17, 2010


scalefree wrote: "There's a new phrase just coined: "gate rape". Pass it on."

This isn't gate rape. Gate rape is when they unpack your carry on and frisk you at the gate, making absolutely positive your fellow passengers think you're a terrorist.
posted by wierdo at 4:17 PM on November 17, 2010


Leave it to the Hong Kong machinema news re-enactors to bring their own unique perspective to the story.
posted by scalefree at 4:38 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looks like good old rabble-rouser Ron Paul has decided to join this rapidly expanding circus!

"My legislation is simple. It establishes that airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us."

posted by chaff at 8:11 PM on November 17, 2010


Leave it to the Hong Kong machinema news re-enactors to bring their own unique perspective yt to the story.

Ahem.
posted by grouse at 8:11 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Leave it to the Hong Kong machinema news re-enactors to bring their own unique perspective yt to the story.

My favorite.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:56 AM on November 18, 2010


Boston's Logan first airport in nation with new body scanner
"[Boston's] Logan Airport will be the nation's first airport to get new technology in response to invasion of privacy complaints from travelers.

The scanner shows a stick figure instead of a naked body.

A box then surrounds any questionable item on the person."
posted by ericb at 7:09 AM on November 18, 2010


Wait, stick figures? And boxes? If the machine can do this all by itself, ... why do employ the fondlers? Alternately, um, maybe we shouldn't trust a machine to do this all by itself? Ugh.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:15 AM on November 18, 2010


I'll believe it when I see it. In yesterday's hearing, he did talk about these supposed stick figure scanners (pffft), but I seem to recall him saying they weren't there yet with the technology since they're constantly getting false positives.
posted by Gator at 7:17 AM on November 18, 2010


Ron Paul's legislation is a mess. It basically criminalizes the TSA and punishes the guys working the line, but places nothing on the supervisors.
posted by humanfont at 7:39 AM on November 18, 2010


Avoiding pat-downs: a few suggested strategies.
posted by Kabanos at 8:57 AM on November 18, 2010


Can someone explain to me why they're supposedly immune from the law? Isn't everyone subject to the law?
posted by onhazier at 9:01 AM on November 18, 2010


Poll: 81% Support Full-Body Airport Scanners.

This makes me sad. I wonder what percentage of the respondents were regular flyers (>10 times/year) and what the response among that group (those at the greatest risk if there were one) is.

Oh, and as far ask I know, even 81% of the population can't force the remaining 19% to give up their rights without amending the constitutions first. Nyah, nyah.

I'm still curious about what happens the first time someone attempts to board a plane with a weapon in a body cavity.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:18 AM on November 18, 2010


The Junk Grabbing Photo You’ll Be Seeing All Day Today.
posted by ericb at 9:19 AM on November 18, 2010


Can someone explain to me why they're supposedly immune from the law? Isn't everyone subject to the law?

Hey, it's "voluntary"!
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:19 AM on November 18, 2010


Video of TSA Screener Accosting 3 Year Old Child at Security Checkpoint

I think this would be the part where I'd just lose it and be arrested/shot/both.

So, flying to Canada and driving south, is this an option?
posted by fullerine at 9:50 AM on November 18, 2010


As a father, I'm not sure how well I'd react to that happening to my kid.
posted by humanfont at 10:20 AM on November 18, 2010


A device known as "The Stripper" was promoted for airport security back in 1974.
posted by Tube at 7:20 PM on November 18, 2010


Sanford Airport to opt out of TSA screening

Orlando Sanford International Airport has decided to opt out from TSA screening.

"All of our due diligence shows it's the way to go," said Larry Dale, the director of the Sanford Airport Authority. "You're going to get better service at a better price and more accountability and better customer service."

Dale says he will be sending a letter requesting to opt out from TSA screening, and instead the airport will choose one of the five approved private screening companies to take over.

posted by thescientificmethhead at 11:38 PM on November 18, 2010


But... what's the difference whether it's the TSA or a private company? The same article goes on to say: "The TSA points out that even if an airport decides to use a private firm for security, the screeners still must follow TSA guidelines. That would include using enhanced pat-downs and the full-body scanners if they are installed at the airport."

How is getting porno-scanned or groped by a private employee a meaningful improvement over getting porno-scanned or groped by a government employee?
posted by scody at 11:49 PM on November 18, 2010


Oh, and as far ask I know, even 81% of the population can't force the remaining 19% to give up their rights without amending the constitutions first. Nyah, nyah.

Well, you know wrong.

I'm not sure which of the constitutions concern you the most, but the USA has been making absurd demands at airports for decades.
posted by pompomtom at 3:47 AM on November 19, 2010


California granny made dummy bomb in airport terror scare.
posted by ericb at 9:54 AM on November 19, 2010


I would like to flag the use of "granny" in that headline as a derail but real life doesn't have flags. Instead we're going to see extra-super-enhanced screenings for grannies because of it.
posted by amethysts at 10:48 AM on November 19, 2010


Grandma groped by TSA blasts 'invasive' body search.
posted by ericb at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


touché, ericb.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:25 PM on November 19, 2010


Oh, and I heard someone else say this was all voluntary. If you don't like it, drive or take the train. But, of course, some of us have to travel for work and if we had to drive or take the train, we would be fired. So the voluntary claim is a red herring, except for people going on personal business. And even then, you may miss gramma's funeral if you drive.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:44 PM on November 19, 2010


TSA makes cancer survivor show prosthesis.
posted by ericb at 2:33 PM on November 19, 2010


If you have ever daydreamed about just stripping down to go through security, go look at this video. German authorities have been thinking about putting porno-scanners into airports, so a group of Berliners went to Berlin-Tegel Airport and stripped down to their skivvies in a security line. Each gate in Tegel Airport has a different security line (small airport) so that's why you see the protesters roaming the halls.
posted by colfax at 2:37 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I keep getting e-mails from more ... right-wing members of my family claiming that women in hijabs will only be patted down in the head and neck area. This is being presented without comment or editorializing, which is strange for my family. They're not even including a link - just one sentence that says, basically, "Wearing a hajid [sic] gets you out of the pat down except in the head and neck areas."

I can't find any credible source on the web that states this is true, just unsourced blog posts. I wonder if this is how they're going to start claiming that anyone who doesn't want the pat down is being unAmerican. After all, it's those Muslim Terrorists that are getting an exemption. A few of the blog posts use it to support the claim that Obama is a Muslim.

Can anyone figure out where this rumor started or the spin that's being put on it?
posted by stoneweaver at 2:38 PM on November 19, 2010


I really hate linking to the TSA blog, but they do address this in their most recent post, and the main TSA site.
posted by Gator at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2010


Can anyone figure out where this rumor started or the spin that's being put on it?

No idea where it started, but I really hope the spin is:

OMG THE TSA IS TRYING TO INSTITUTE SHARIA LAW!!!1 EVERYONE MUST WEAR HIJAB!
posted by odinsdream at 2:54 PM on November 19, 2010


Thanks, Gator! That's exactly what I needed to know. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, since it's obviously getting a lot of play on the right-wing radio programs.

Also of note in that TSA blog post is that children under 12 will not be getting groped anymore...
posted by stoneweaver at 3:05 PM on November 19, 2010


Actually, it says, "Children 12 years old and under who require extra screening will receive a modified pat down." (Emphasis mine.) Pretty vague, that, but they can't possibly exempt children because if they did, the terrorists would line their little girls' pigtails with C4 and tape nitroglycerin ampoules to little boys' bellybuttons. And whatnot.
posted by Gator at 3:09 PM on November 19, 2010


TSA screeners hate the new rules.
posted by humanfont at 8:45 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


No Security Pat-Downs for Boehner
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:37 PM on November 19, 2010


T.S.A. Grants Pilots an Exception to Screenings

On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it would let uniformed airline pilots skip the screenings, reversing an earlier policy that everyone had to go through the screenings as part of the agency’s efforts to prevent terrorist attacks. Pilots who are traveling out of uniform or not on official business will still be subject to searches, the agency said.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 12:38 PM on November 20, 2010


Obama calls airport pat-downs frustrating but necessary

"One of the most frustrating aspects of this fight against terrorism is that it has created a whole security apparatus around us that causes a huge inconvenience for all of us," Obama said.

Homeland Security chairman to TSA: 'Reconsider' pat-downs

In a letter Friday to TSA Administrator John Pistole, Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said the agency should rethink the new screening procedures in light of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, typically the busiest travel time of the year.

“Before implementing this new more invasive pat down procedure, as a preliminary matter, TSA should have had a conversation with the American public about the need for these changes. Even before that conversation, TSA should have endeavored to ensure that these changes did not run afoul of privacy and civil liberties,” they write.


$11,000 fine, arrest possible for some who refuse airport scans and pat downs

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is warning that any would-be commercial airline passenger who enters an airport checkpoint and then refuses to undergo the method of inspection designated by TSA will not be allowed to fly and also will not be permitted to simply leave the airport.

That person will have to remain on the premises to be questioned by the TSA and possibly by local law enforcement. Anyone refusing faces fines up to $11,000 and possible arrest.

posted by thescientificmethhead at 12:51 PM on November 20, 2010


That person will have to remain on the premises to be questioned by the TSA and possibly by local law enforcement. Anyone refusing faces fines up to $11,000 and possible arrest.

This seems like the most ridiculous part of all of this, that you are compelled to stay or be fined even if you become uncomfortable with the procedures and want to go home. This is completely unacceptable.
posted by odinsdream at 1:20 PM on November 20, 2010


Not to defend any part of this stupid situation, but it isn't that ridiculous if you buy into the mindset. Someone who intends to board, but declines the pornoscanner/grope when selected, may be doing so because they have (say) explosive underwear. You can't just let them walk out into the terminal as their plan B may be to blow their junk up out there.

This is what happens when you view everyone as a threat. Everyone becomes a threat.
posted by unSane at 6:22 PM on November 20, 2010


unSane; TSA floated that same argument. I don't buy it. The fourth amendment still applies, and that clearly violates it.
posted by odinsdream at 6:40 PM on November 20, 2010


My understanding is that there's a tacit suspensions of those rights in a border situations (which this is). To be honest, US Americans talking about rights like this sounds pretty quaint these days, since you don't have a Supreme Court which is remotely interested in upholding constitutional freedoms.
posted by unSane at 7:18 PM on November 20, 2010


TSA pat-down leaves traveler covered in urine: 'I was absolutely humiliated,' said bladder cancer survivor
posted by homunculus at 7:31 PM on November 20, 2010


odinsdream wrote: "This seems like the most ridiculous part of all of this, that you are compelled to stay or be fined even if you become uncomfortable with the procedures and want to go home. This is completely unacceptable."

It is established law that once you begin the screening process, you must complete it. However, in the Supreme Court case that controls, the act of beginning the screening process was laying your belongings on the x-ray belt. It would be interesting to see if they would extend that out to the ID check in a new case or if they would decline to do so.

It generally becomes obvious what machines/procedures you'll be subject to before you place your belongings on the x-ray machine, but not until long after the ID check.
posted by wierdo at 7:53 PM on November 20, 2010


My understanding is that there's a tacit suspensions of those rights in a border situations (which this is). To be honest, US Americans talking about rights like this sounds pretty quaint these days, since you don't have a Supreme Court which is remotely interested in upholding constitutional freedoms.

I agree entirely. Nothing about this means I'm not personally interested in asserting my rights. The airports are not borders, and the TSA doesn't create special rights.
posted by odinsdream at 5:11 AM on November 21, 2010


Cancer survivors sure are getting screwed here. Refuse the x-ray because of the very real cancer risk, and then have your prostheses removed and ostomies spilled during the enhanced pat-down. Perhaps they should hire licensed physicians to assist in these "medical" procedures. Also, I wouldn't trust a TSA employee to operate an x-ray machine without error. Even trained medical professionals over-expose patients on occasion, with often lethal consequences.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:10 AM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


SNL: Message from TSA
posted by homunculus at 11:20 AM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cancer survivors sure are getting screwed here.

Yeah, I've read enough of these stories that it makes me feel perversely relieved that I'm doing chemo over the holidays and won't be flying anywhere any time soon -- I won't take the risk of the machines, and I am genuinely worried I would start crying from the pat-down, given that I'm still dressing my incisions, which I assume would trigger a strip search.

I mean, jesus, when I had my temporary ileostomy for 7 weeks I would barely leave the house during that time because I was so terrified someone would notice it through my clothes. If I had to take my clothes off and show it to a stranger -- keep in mind I wouldn't show it to my boyfriend during that time -- I would have had a fucking emotional breakdown.

And it's not just cancer survivors, either, of course; millions of people have ostomies due to inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Chron's, ulcerative colitis) or prosthetics due to injury, burns, etc. Will each of us have to be humiliated individually each time we fly? I signed a lot of papers when I went into the hospital last time, but any don't recall any Formal Renunciation of My Fourth Amendment Rights being among them.

Fuck the TSA, fuck every Democrat and Republican who gave them these powers to begin with, and fuck every Democrat and Republican who continues to defend them.
posted by scody at 12:14 PM on November 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Young Boy strip searched by TSA (YouTube)
posted by thescientificmethhead at 1:18 PM on November 21, 2010


I think the thing I find the most amazing about this whole deal is that, for the first time, the comments on Youtube are things I actually agree with.
posted by meese at 1:22 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


AP: TSA has met the enemy — and they are us

After nine years of funneling travelers into ever longer lines with orders to have shoes off, sippy cups empty and laptops out for inspection, the most surprising thing about increasingly heated frustration with the federal Transportation Security Administration may be that it took so long to boil over.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 1:22 PM on November 21, 2010


Young Boy strip searched by TSA (YouTube)

Absolutely fucking ridiculous!
posted by ericb at 1:23 PM on November 21, 2010


Jesus, scody, that's heavy. Best wishes to you from a fellow chemo patient and cancer survivor.

I've had enough x-rays, CTs, and chemotherapeutics that I will NOT expose myself to any unnecessary irradiation. If the TSA are willing to invade people's personal medical space, I think they should be at the very least forced to hire trained nurses so as to minimize the harm that they do. But fuck that; if yanking out people's protheses and ostomies isn't an unreasonable search and violation of the Fourth Amendment, I don't know what is.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:40 PM on November 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I had previously had cancer, or had a history of cancer in my family, I'd be pretty concerned about the scanners, also. More people than not probably aren't susceptible to mutations caused by the x-ray backscatter machine. But those with a history of cancer in the family, or worse, a personal history of cancer, have ample reason to be concerned.
posted by wierdo at 3:34 PM on November 21, 2010


TSA Has No Time to Train its Screeners

Oh, and I would like to amend my "fuck every Democrat and Republican who supports this" to include Independents, otherwise Joe Fucking Lieberman gets off the hook.
posted by scody at 3:34 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Opt out and ask for a public pat down. Do not allow this aggressive invasion of your privacy to go unwitnessed.
posted by humanfont at 5:25 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Young Boy strip searched by TSA yt (YouTube)

Ok, who wants to be the first to defend this... come on... I know you're still reading this thread.
posted by odinsdream at 6:04 PM on November 21, 2010


I saw a couple of stories pop up today about entrepreneurs selling radiation-blocking undergarments - one guy's even has a metallic fig leaf over the groin. It's kind of genius, and I wonder how the screeners would react to it.
posted by chaff at 12:00 AM on November 22, 2010


I imagine it would trigger a pat down like any other aberration on the screen; so why not just opt for the pat down instead.
posted by amethysts at 7:22 AM on November 22, 2010


Young Boy strip searched by TSA

TSA responds.
posted by Gator at 7:24 AM on November 22, 2010


Passenger Chooses Strip-Down Over Pat-Down.
posted by ericb at 9:40 AM on November 22, 2010


Amid outcry, TSA chief says agency reviewing new screenings.
posted by ericb at 9:41 AM on November 22, 2010


Airline passengers aren’t the only ones complaining about the Transportation Security Administration’s new enhanced security procedures. Many TSA employees aren’t too happy, either.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents TSA workers, is urging the TSA to do more to protect its employees from abuse from airline passengers angry over the new security methods. The union reports that some members "have reported instances in which passengers have become angry, belligerent and even physical with TSOs (transportation security officers). In Indianapolis, for example, a TSO was punched by a passenger who didn’t like the new screening process," the union said in a Nov. 17 statement posted on its website.
I have a hunch that this is where things are going to continue to get worse for the TSA (well, that and the metric boatload of lawsuits that are either already underway or in the works). If you have a public that is increasingly refusing to submit to the procedures plus a workforce that is increasingly feeling at risk for performing those procedures, then what?

For the record, I actually think most TSA employees on the front lines are decent people just trying to do their (thankless) jobs, and this latest round puts them in a pretty unwinnable position: follow the new rules and get accused of assault and run the risk of being assaulted yourself, or don't follow the new rules and take the risk of getting fired during a shitty job market.
posted by scody at 1:44 PM on November 22, 2010


From the strip-down article, I think this is the most concerning bit: "A woman [...] was detained for recording the incident on a phone".
posted by coriolisdave at 1:44 PM on November 22, 2010


I agree; that bothered me the most as well.
posted by salvia at 3:52 PM on November 22, 2010


TSA responds to passenger outrages: underwear search should "never" happen

An ABC News employee said she was subject to a "demeaning" search at Newark Liberty International Airport Sunday morning.

"The woman who checked me reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around," she said. "It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist. It was embarrassing. It was demeaning. It was inappropriate."

The head of the Transportation Security Administration John Pistole today said that at least one airport passenger screening went too far when an officer reached inside a traveler's underwear, and said the agency is open to rethinking current protocols.

posted by thescientificmethhead at 6:40 PM on November 22, 2010


Has this been posted yet?

On November 21, 2010, I was allowed to enter the U.S. through an airport security checkpoint without being x-rayed or touched by a TSA officer. This post explains how.


Why is TSA re-scanning people who've already flown and don't have additional connecting flights that day? I don't understand the rationale.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:44 PM on November 22, 2010


Why is TSA re-scanning people who've already flown and don't have additional connecting flights that day? I don't understand the rationale.

Doubtless because the airport was not designed to let people from the customs area out to the street without walking through the secure airside area.
posted by grouse at 6:56 PM on November 22, 2010


It's pretty funny how they kept him surrounded at all times on the way out, as if he was just going to wander off or something.
posted by wierdo at 7:30 PM on November 22, 2010


Doubtless because the airport was not designed to let people from the customs area out to the street without walking through the secure airside area.

Hmm. Bad design.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:36 PM on November 22, 2010


That's a great piece, longdaysjourney, it's so perfect I wonder if it's even real . . if so it's a perfect slice view of the whole thing, and dovetails neatly with most other confrontation reports: the people in supervisory positions at the TSA know that the procedures are basically unconstitutional, and the cops aren't necessarily on their side. The TSA can appeal to the cops to make an arrest, but if the TSA guy makes that call it's his job on the line, and they know the person arguing with them isn't an underwear bomber.

Their only hope to keep the current system in place is through intimidation, and as more people peek behind the curtain like this guy did the harder their job is going to be. All it's going to take is one TSA guy screwing up, one big juicy lawsuit that plays out in the media, and the whole thing will collapse. I predict that by Christmas there will be some kind of compromise or reframing or new direction from the TSA, maybe something similarly odious like an implanted ID microchip, but the days of ball-fondling are surely numbered.

That is, unless the whole blog post is a clever ruse along the lines of that Mick Jagger thing from last week that I totally fell for.
posted by chaff at 7:54 PM on November 22, 2010


TSA video: Helpful Hints for Holiday Travelers
posted by thescientificmethhead at 8:03 PM on November 22, 2010


Also, I just saw a really interesting Reddit post about a guy's experience here in Seattle. Apparently they have the body image scanner in a separate area away from the main security area. If you are selected for special screening, it's just "please come down this hallway", and there's only ever one or two people at a time.

Very clever, and I'm surprised it's taken this long - they have the whole airport to work with, after all. If they take you to another room before you even see the scanner, then your public opt-out protest can be contained, with no audience and no iPhones to tell the tale. Wanna sit in a windowless room with the other internet nerds for six hours? Great, right this way.

I suspect this maneuver comes down from TSA central and will be largely in place by Nov 24th, but maybe it's just some enterprising locals who had a brainstorm.
posted by chaff at 11:11 PM on November 22, 2010


Ok, who wants to be the first to defend this... come on... I know you're still reading this thread.

Oh, it was the father who took the shirt off...
posted by smackfu at 6:12 AM on November 23, 2010


Doubtless because the airport was not designed to let people from the customs area out to the street without walking through the secure airside area.

Yeah, I've never seen this after any of my international flights. At all the NYC airports, incoming travelers are completely separated from the other departing side of the terminal. Once you pass the last customs check after the luggage, you just walk out into the lobby. Maybe because the Cincinnati airport isn't a major international port of entry, it has a weird setup?
posted by smackfu at 6:16 AM on November 23, 2010


If the whole issue were over secondary screening, I think we'd be having a very different freakout (or none at all, since the pornoscanners have been around for secondary screening for over a year in some places). The reason everyone is up in arms is that it's being forced on everyone.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:17 AM on November 23, 2010


I don't think I see this one posted here yet: "TSA took my son."
posted by meese at 8:26 AM on November 23, 2010


That's over a year old and was debunked at the time.
posted by Gator at 8:28 AM on November 23, 2010


Oh, oops!
posted by meese at 8:29 AM on November 23, 2010


[Compilation of related comments from different posters]:

Personally I prefer backscatter to a patdown

As someone with friends who have been sexually assaulted, I honestly think most if not all of them would opt for the pornoscan

So...I really, really am not a fan of the scanner, but frankly the patdown makes me a lot more uncomfortable


Too bad you may not even get that option. Even if you agree to go through the full-body scanner, you may be required to get a patdown anyway. Last time I flew, I was given a pat-down even after going through the MMW scanner. (This was several months ago and was the old, pre-full-grope pat-down, but I don't believe that has changed with the introduction of the gropedown.) Or if you don't believe me, it happened to Dave Barry too, as onhazier posted way way above.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:20 AM on November 23, 2010


My experience mocking TSA security theatre at Seatac as a nearly-naked enfant terrible (with video). Both links very NSFW.
posted by grouse at 10:14 AM on November 23, 2010


Survey: 1 in 2 in U.S. says pat-downs go too far.
posted by ericb at 12:16 PM on November 23, 2010


From the most recent deleted thread (grrr, I refuse to link to Buzzfeed), MeFi's own Adam Savage queries: "WTF, TSA?" Six months ago at Wootstock, when this was apparently still something we could laugh at, but still.
posted by Gator at 12:42 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't we all just agree that this whole process has gotten stupid crazy fucked-up? There is zero (I don't mean close to zero, like 0.000000000001, but zero) evidence that these procedures enhance our safety at all. No one has produced any incidents that have been thwarted by all this theater, but rather that all this messing around will prevent another airplane related terroristic event is based on faith. Meanwhile, police and intelligence work and the diligence of fellow passengers has been responsible for thwarting every event that has been thwarted (and would have thwarted the big one had passengers known what they know now).

Suppose we used all the TSA money that's gone into this charade and spent it on educating the flying public as to why we don't really need to do all this shit. Could that possibly roll back the ignorance of the public so that the airlines and travel businesses would not suffer as we quit treating air travellers like criminals?
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:46 PM on November 23, 2010


That's the reasonable position that having a reasonable President was supposed to get us to.
posted by smackfu at 12:50 PM on November 23, 2010


I rest my case.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:55 PM on November 23, 2010


You can give feedback to one of our Senators at his webpage. Although Udall represents NM, he's always been a force for good in the senate. Please take the time to let him know you're against both the scanners and invasive pat downs.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:21 PM on November 23, 2010


Thanks for the link, stoneweaver.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:25 PM on November 23, 2010


Doesn't the TSA fall directly under the Executive branch?
posted by smackfu at 1:31 PM on November 23, 2010


The magic of the three way split of power in the US is that Congress can act as a brake on the Executive branch. They have the power to set laws, and they can outlaw this sort of behavior.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:33 PM on November 23, 2010


Long on innuendo, but more than enough suggestive connections are noted, and the theory is chilling enough to discuss:
Immediately after the launching of the “National Opt-Out Campaign” by Washington grassroots lobbyist and “ordinary citizen” Brian Sodergren, Rep. Mica sent out letters to the heads of at least 100 airports across America advising them to “opt out” of the government-funded TSA program and hand over the job to private contractors. [Emphasis mine.] One of the first airports to sign on to Rep. Mica’s privatization program, Orlando’s Sanford Airport, happens to lie in Rep. Mica’s district. The airport also happens to be a client of Rep. Mica’s daughter, D’Anne Mica, who is listed as a partner in two lobbying/PR firms consulted by Sanford Airport. One of Ms. Mica’s PR firms,“Grasshopper Media,” boasts of its “history of success in organizing strategic and comprehensive grassroots campaigns.” In other words: Astroturfing.
posted by kipmanley at 6:46 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Re: the above, Glenn Greenwald is not impressed.
posted by kipmanley at 6:57 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Happy Opt-Out Day! Be safe out there everybody!

TSA speedo protester (YT)

New York, Atlanta Airports See No Impact from Scanner Protest

LaGuardia workers have seen no evidence of slowdowns from passengers requesting pat-down searches rather than scans, General Manager Thomas Bosco told reporters today. Lines at Atlanta’s airport were less than 10 minutes at noon, less than on most Monday mornings, a peak business-travel period.

Airport lines move smoothly despite warnings

The lines of Thanksgiving travelers moved quickly and smoothly at airports around the country Wednesday morning despite an Internet campaign to get passengers to gum up the works on one of the busiest days of the year by refusing full-body scans.

A Thanksgiving Nightmare for Holiday Travelers From Coast-to-Coast

Poll finds 61% oppose new airport security measures

TSA: Some gov't officials to skip airport security

Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.

'We hate obese passengers and people with personal hygiene issues:' Now 'abused' TSA staff vent their anger at patdown searches

TSA workers face verbal abuse from travelers

Spreadin' the glove: TSA infecting U.S.?

TSA Advertises Open Jobs On Pizza Boxes

"A Career Where X-Ray Vision and Federal Benefits Come Standard," screams a TSA ad appearing on pizza boxes popping up across the Washington, D.C., region, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 10:16 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


TSA: National Opt-Out Day a Complete Failure
People Opt Out of "National Opt Out Day"

"If someone gets a thrill over that than fine, just let me go where I'm going," said Graves.
posted by chaff at 10:22 AM on November 24, 2010


Oh holy hell. Pictures of BONES visible from the pornoscanner and analysis of what that means in terms of radiation.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:38 AM on November 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


A charming new turn of phrase here:

The memo, which actually takes the form of an administrative directive, appears to be the product of undated but recent high level meetings between Napolitano, John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA),and one or more of Obama’s national security advisors. This document officially addresses those who are opposed to, or engaged in the disruption of the implementation of the enhanced airport screening procedures as “domestic extremists.”
posted by chaff at 10:54 AM on November 24, 2010


So the above article is characterizing opt-out day as a "complete failure" because there aren't overwhelming delays at security checkpoints? Because people aren't missing flights? Because outraged citizens haven't linked arms to block people from going through the checkpoints, bringing commercial air travel to a grinding halt? I think the success of the general opposition to the TSA procedures is demonstrated by the across-the-board media coverage of the issue for the past several weeks. In casual conversation the past few weeks at work, in restaurants, at the comic shop, people have voiced their anger at the TSA procedures (without me soliciting their opinion on the matter). I think people have been fed up with the useless security theater for a long time, but now that the mainstream media is covering the frustration with the screenings people feel like it's OK to voice their own oppositional opinion.

The "domestic extremists" language is disturbing, but sadly not surprising. People opposed to the screening procedures now join Christians, Ron Paul supporters, Libertarians, and others as dangerous extremist groups as stated in the MIAC report from last year.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 11:28 AM on November 24, 2010


Oh holy hell. Pictures of BONES visible from the pornoscanner and analysis of what that means in terms of radiation.

Cool, another chance for me to ask a question I keep forgetting to ask...

How does the radiation in a backscatter-imaging machine compare to the cosmic radiation we receive on the airplane flight itself, in terms of amount and/or type?

I have heard from one person who is adamantly opposed to both pornoscanners and pat-downs, but he claims that the radiation from the backscatter/x-ray machine is equivalent to about 5 minutes of flying time.

True, false, unverifiable claim?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:38 AM on November 24, 2010


mrgrimm, this is what I was able to find on the matter:

How Much Radiation Are You Exposed To During a Cross-Country Flight?

Although the amount of radiation absorbed during a flight depends on the plane's altitude and latitude and the current solar activity and weather conditions, the typical New York City-to-Los Angeles trip in a commercial airplane exposes a person to about 2 to 5 millirem (mrem) — less than half the dose received from a chest X-ray (10 mrem), according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. Rems are a measurement of the biological effect from exposure to radiation.

The backscatter X-ray technology being introduced at Transportation Security Administration stations in airports across the country gives off a dose of 10 microrem (mcg), or 0.001 mrem, according to the TSA. So while you're in the plane that's flying cross-country, you're receiving between 2,000 and 5,000 times as much cosmic radiation as you were subjectedto in order to board the plane. Even if you combine those two doses, it is only about1/200th of what you normally receive in a year.

Researchers: TSA Misleads Public on Scanner Safety

In a detailed paper submitted to the White House, the researchers identified a number of red flags associated with the use of this technology. Specifically, even though the backscatter machines operate at low beam powers, the majority of their radiation is directed at the skin and underlying tissue, not the entire body. The report says because the X-ray energy is not absorbed by the entire body, the skin dosage may be dangerously high in localized areas, exposure that's very different than a chest X-ray. Furthermore, they say no independent data exists on the safety of routine use of backscatter machines. The TSA appears to have accepted data from the manufacturers, without benefit of conducting independent risk assessment buttressed by peer-reviewed data.

Wikipedia page for Backscatter X-ray

The Health Physics Society (HPS) reports that a person undergoing a backscatter scan receives approximately 0.05 μSv (or 0.005 mrems) of radiation; American Science and Engineering Inc. reports 0.09 μSv (0.009 mrems). At the high altitudes typical of commercial flights, naturally occurring cosmic radiation is considerably higher than at ground level. The radiation dose for a six hour flight is 20 μSv (2 mrems) — 200 to 400 times larger than a backscatter scan.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 1:10 PM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


From chaff's link National Opt-Out Day A Complete Failure:
Following a pat-down, one passenger commented, “That’s it? That’s all there is to it? Why is the media making such a big deal? I’ve received more invasive pat downs just going to a rock concert.”
A reporter told me that the TSA quietly modified its pat-down techniques in response to recent protests and ahead of National Opt-Out Day. I can't verify that, but it wouldn't surprise me.

I went through BOS yesterday in a wheelchair. I evaded the backscatter (I have six screws in my pelvis) and was patted down while standing with my crutches. The pat-down was considerably less invasive than I expected: backs of hands instead of palms, no touching of crotch or under / between breasts, no hands inside my pants (two fingers just inside my waistband all the way around). I did not receive the pat-down I have repeatedly seen described on blogs and in news stories, so I find it entirely believable that TSA scaled back its procedures.
posted by swerve at 3:15 PM on November 24, 2010


So you're saying that they didn't meet resistance?
posted by wierdo at 3:24 PM on November 24, 2010


CNN: Opt-outs largely no-shows at airports

Organizers of the protest said their goal was never to delay travelers, but merely to urge them to stay home -- or to begin a dialogue about security procedures.

"Now we're having this national conversation saying, 'We have limited resources. Are we doing it right? Is there something more we can be doing?' " said Brian Sodergren of OptOutDay.com. "... These are all issues that I wanted to be brought up and have a discussion about, so as far as I'm concerned, [the day has] succeeded. We got the issue out there, and got the attention of folks."

posted by thescientificmethhead at 6:27 PM on November 24, 2010


One fine point that is ignored in comparing the amount of radiation in a backscatter xray to that received by high-altitude flight is that the radiation I receive in the former is for activity that has no direct benefit to me. I only benefit, putatively, from the screening that delivers radiation to you, and vice versa. The radiation received at altitude, on the other hand, is due to activity that benefits the person receiving it. Although a subtle distinction, the moral distinction is huge and is one that is focused on sharply by institutional review boards when considering the risk/benefit tradeoffs of a medical procedure to an individual. It is totally consistent to resist the additional exposure from backscatter even though it is small in relation to the total received on a high-altitude.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:17 PM on November 24, 2010


So I have a serious question pertaining to this TSA "grope or be photographed nude" options. What do nuns do? I have an acquaintance who is a Buddhist nun and she frequently travels between Canada and Vietnam. How would American-based bhikkuni deal with the travel requirements?

Or perhaps that is a bad example, as Buddhism stresses non-attachment, so perhaps a lack of attachment to modesty would be the order of the day. But surely Catholic nuns must be dealing with this in some fashion. When Helen Prejean or Gwen Hennessey travels, do they get TSA employees reaching up their skirts until they encounter the wimple?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:52 AM on November 25, 2010


Wow, it took a really long time to find one of those apparently-numerous open TSA threads. It was on page 9!

Exhibitionist goes through TSA security checkpoint wearing transparent lingerie [nsfw]
posted by tehloki at 11:19 AM on November 25, 2010


The TSA and America's Turning Point

There is no question that America is in the midst of a long-overdue revolt against intrusive government on many levels, but the TSA's indignities and incompetence reach into every middle-class life. The molestations, porno-scans, and general harassment set off so many warning signals it's a wonder anyone's still flying at all.

The people have made their fury loudly know. The TSA's response? Screw you!

posted by thescientificmethhead at 12:36 PM on November 27, 2010


« Older "'What are the laws?' he said, explaining his deci...  |  A few weeks ago, we attempted ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments