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Americans A-OK with TSA? Donít bet on it
Chicago Sun-Times ^ | December 1, 2010 | JACOB SULLUM

Posted on 12/01/2010 7:18:53 AM PST by KeyLargo

Americans A-OK with TSA? Don’t bet on it

December 1, 2010

BY JACOB SULLUM jsullum@reason.com

According to the Transportation Security Administration, Americans have no problem with the new airport screening procedures. So they should stop complaining.

That self-contradictory reassurance, which would be unnecessary if it were true, seemed slightly more plausible after chaos failed to ensue from protests by Thanksgiving travelers who refused to walk through the TSA’s full-body scanners last week. But there are reasons to question the TSA’s portrait of placid passengers happily baring all for the sake of homeland security.

First of all, the TSA’s numbers are fishy. It typically compares the number of passengers who opted for a pat-down instead of a full-body scan to the total number of travelers passing through the same airport that day — for example, “39 total AIT (advanced imaging technology) opt-outs ... out of 47,000 fliers” at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on the day before Thanksgiving or “113 AIT opt-outs across LAX’s eight terminals, which is less than 1 percent of the approximately 50,000 travelers screened.”

But to opt out, you have to be presented with a choice between revealing yourself to the TSA and letting an agent feel you up, and it seems most travelers never got that choice. Fewer than 400 of a planned 1,000 machines have been installed at airports so far, and they are used sporadically. Even when they’re used, passengers do not necessarily know what they are walking through or that they have a right to request a pat-down, instead.

“For most travelers through Newark Liberty International Airport,” the Newark Star-Ledger reports, “the choice between a full-body scan and an aggressive pat-down was strictly academic. The half-dozen scanners now operational at Newark Liberty were largely idle during Opt Out Day — and for much of the Thanksgiving holiday before and afterward — depriving passengers of the opportunity to opt out even if they had wanted to.”

CBS News reports that at Reagan National Airport “only occasionally were passengers routed to body scanners. The vast majority went through metal detectors only.” Furthermore, the machines “were not labeled as ‘body scanners,’ nor were there any images posted by or on them showing what they do. Several seasoned travelers told us they didn’t realize they were in a body scanner until they were asked to raise their arms.” In any case, “no opt-out choices were presented.” Yet “your consent is presumed if you walk into the machine without objecting.”

In these circumstances, the TSA’s claim that 99 percent of passengers “consent” to full-body scans is less impressive. Still, it is not surprising that most people would choose showing their bodies to a TSA agent they cannot see over letting one get up close and personal, which is a more conspicuous, embarrassing and degrading experience. That does not mean they’re fine with the scoping, only that the groping is worse.

The TSA likes to cite a CBS poll conducted a few weeks ago that found 81 percent of Americans support the new scanners. But the pollsters did not mention that the scanners reveal passengers’ naked bodies. Not surprisingly, polls that allude to this fact tend to find less support for the machines. A Gallup poll conducted a few days before Thanksgiving found that 42 percent of fliers object to the scanners, while a Zogby poll conducted around the same time found that 61 percent of likely voters oppose the TSA’s new procedures.

As more scanners are installed and virtual strip searches become routine, opposition may increase. Then again, Americans have a history, at airports and elsewhere, of getting used to invasions of privacy and infringements of liberty justified in the name of public safety.

Requirements that once seemed objectionable — from surrendering your pocket tools and beverages to taking off your shoes, from mandatory seat belt laws to DUI roadblocks, from divulging your Social Security number to showing your papers, from letting police dogs sniff your stuff to signing a registry when you buy allergy medicine — have a way of becoming the new normal.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 4thamendment; agents; searches; tsa; tsapervs

1 posted on 12/01/2010 7:18:58 AM PST by KeyLargo
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To: KeyLargo

A-OK? HA!

Just wait till the next election cycle when Conservatives start running on a platform of shutting them down.


2 posted on 12/01/2010 7:25:40 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: KeyLargo

Had a choice in Kansas City this morning, go left for the magnetometer (Old system), or right for the Rapidscan (new body scanner). I went right. First time I had avoided the pat down since I had my knee replacement three years ago. No more pat downs will keep me a happy camper.


3 posted on 12/01/2010 7:26:08 AM PST by centurion316
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To: KeyLargo
...Americans have no problem with the new airport screening procedures. So they should stop complaining.

I need to see the actual quote on this statement. I would love to use that in my 'friendly' discussions on this subject, but I will need to reference it.

4 posted on 12/01/2010 7:32:22 AM PST by Never on my watch (It is NOT OK for a government stranger to touch a child's private parts)
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To: centurion316
The pat down will soon be mandatory

Photobucket

5 posted on 12/01/2010 7:38:53 AM PST by Boston Blackie (TSA motto: One man's junk is a TSA agent's treasure.)
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To: KeyLargo; All

Why don’t we just observe how many people are flying?

Has anyone seen any news coverage of a change in ticket sales?


6 posted on 12/01/2010 7:49:08 AM PST by donna (Synonyms: Feminism, Marxism, Communism, Socialism, Fascism, Islamism)
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To: KeyLargo
Americans have a history, at airports and elsewhere, of getting used to invasions of privacy and infringements of liberty justified in the name of public safety.

Too true, that.

7 posted on 12/01/2010 7:50:31 AM PST by null and void (We are now in day 679 of our national holiday from reality. - 0bama really isn't one of US.)
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To: Never on my watch

What I have heard is one of the things TSA will do to complainers is put them on a list for big time screening on their next encounters with TSA.

TSA revenge screenings
November 25, 2010 10:12 PM
TSA holds woman captive as revenge for her complaint against them.

Stacey Armato regularly travels for work through Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. Earlier this year she was also pumping breastmilk for her baby during the day, then carrying it home for him. According to TSA regulations, breastmilk (classed as a medical liquid) can either be sent through the x-ray, or mothers can choose an alternate screening, involving a test strip. Armato ran into trouble when the Sky Harbor TSA agents were unaware of the regulations and kept her for 30 minutes while they called around to find out their rules. Afterwards, she filed a complaint.

The following week, the same TSA agents were waiting for her to come back, and apparently planned to get revenge. They held her in the special screening area for over an hour, in order to make her miss her flight home. When she had the TSA manager read the TSA regulations, he said that they didn’t apply to her today. She was told “to be quiet if I know what’s good for me”, and that she had a choice between following their dog and pony show, or being arrested. Here’s her description of the events portrayed in the video.

Stacey Armato is a lawyer, and she found out that you can request the TSA security videos. After repeated requests, they finally sent her the video footage, except for one section - the bit where the TSA supervisor wrote down her personal information and put it in his pocket, and took photos of her breastmilk in the containers he made her re-distribute it into.

http://www.metafilter.com/97920/TSA-revenge-screenings


8 posted on 12/01/2010 7:58:53 AM PST by KeyLargo
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To: KeyLargo

What I have heard is one of the things TSA will do to complainers is put them on a list for big time screening on their next encounters with TSA.

Unless after you file your complaint you legally change your name to Mohammed Mohammed Hussein Mohammed Shahid Jihad Mohammed. Then you will breeze right thru.


9 posted on 12/01/2010 8:42:42 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: KeyLargo

I was at the Denver airport on the day before Thanksgiving to meet my father. I had received a gate pass to meet and assist him at the gate. I went through the metal detector only, no body scan and no pat down. The same thing when he left this Saturday, metal detector, no body scan and not pat down. I think that the body scan may be required if someone sets off the metal detector.


10 posted on 12/01/2010 9:07:53 AM PST by BulletBobCo
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To: KeyLargo

I watched this security video on some website, and it was maddening. They kept her in this plexi box for almost an hour, occasionally taking her out to boss her around. She had a printout of the breast milk rules, as per TSA advice, and the supervisor just read them and ignored the guidelines.


11 posted on 12/01/2010 12:42:33 PM PST by catbertz
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To: centurion316
No more pat downs will keep me a happy camper.

Until the Melanoma is discovered...

12 posted on 12/02/2010 1:51:37 AM PST by grobdriver (Proud Member, Party Of No! No Socialism - No Fascism - Nobama - No Way!)
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To: grobdriver; centurion316

grobdriver,

exactly, we don’t know the long term effects of these new machines.

centurion316

I understand your sentiment about the patdowns, but what bothers me is the dearth of information on these scanning devices... where is the FDA approval, and lab studies? If I go to the doctor or dentist, their imaging machines have gotten approved, and I have some idea of the effects.


13 posted on 12/10/2010 9:24:54 PM PST by WildHighlander57 ((WildHighlander57 returning after lurking since 2000))
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