Officials defend intimate airport security methods

Posted November 15, 2010

— Officials are defending new anti-terrorism security procedures at the nation's airports that some travelers complain are overly invasive and intimate.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says in a USA Today opinion piece that body scanners used at many airports are safe and the images viewed in private.

She says pat-downs have been used for years at airports and measures are in place to protect travelers' privacy.

The head of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole, said Monday on NBC's "Today" show that "everybody wants the best possible security" and the TSA is looking for a balance between security and privacy.

Some travelers fear the scanners may produce unhealthy radiation and complain the pat-downs, which can include touching the inside of travelers' thighs and feeling their buttocks, are too personal.

Travelers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Monday were concerned about the airport security measures. 

"I don't have a problem with it . If it makes us secure, that is a good thing. So, you know, they've got body scans, you've got your choice," traveler Bill Kerch said. 

"I probably wouldn't prefer to be patted down by someone that I didn't know," traveler Kristin La Fortune said. "I know the new body scanners use radio waves, which is actually a bit safer than going through an X-ray from a health standpoint. It's probably a better method." 

California resident John Tyner challenged security authorities over the weekend when he refused to use the body scanner machines or receive a pat-down at the check-point.

"I turned to (the airport security agent), I looked him in the eye and I said, 'If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested,'" Tyner said, recalling the incident. "The supervisor came over (and) explained the whole process again. I told her, 'You know, I'm not really comfortable with this. It seems to me it amounts to a sexual assault, and I don't think that should be a condition for getting on the plane.'"

He said he was ordered to leave the airport and threatened with a $10,000 fine.


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  • spiritualexplorer Nov 18, 2010

    The claims that these scanners are needed because of the underwear bomber are misleading. The TSA is naive to think that a terrorist that is willing to die in an airplane explosion will have a problem with having his abdomen cut open, the explosives placed inside, and then detonating them in the air 6 hrs later. The "enhanced" pat-downs and body imaging units will NOT find these items placed inside the body. This type of bomber will only be caught by PROFILING and behavior/body language analysis.

    Instead of angering EVERY American flyer with these invasive searches stating “We have the right to molest you if you choose to fly”, why not anger only a fraction of the flying population by stating, “We will profile you if you choose to fly?” Use behavior analysis and body language cues like they do in Israel, instead of lining the pockets of politicians with vested interest in the sales of these scanners to the TSA.

  • WXYZ Nov 17, 2010

    True, too few citizens understand. "To be a government "of the people, by the people, for the people," we must honor our obligation to be proactively involved in the day-to-day affairs of our country, rather than to leave these critical decisions to an elite whose agenda seldom has our best interests at heart.

    If I — or any of my contemporaries — died today, we would do so having enjoyed some measure of the freedom unique to the experience of having been an American. A freedom granted to us by God, preserved by the blood of heroes and entrusted to our eternal vigilance. But my heart sinks when I think of my children and the generations to come who will never know that freedom; who will never know the truth of what a constitutional republic is, and who will pay for our failures. I would rather die on the field of battle seeking to preserve this republic, than to live and see that great tragedy unfold." Search for: 9/30/2005
    "Thunderous applause for liberty's death" By Joe Giganti

  • luckyman7 Nov 16, 2010

    WXYZ, I served in the US Military and also received an Honorable Discharge. What I don't understand is how searching for things that may be harmful to The United States and It's citizens is a violation of anyone's Constitutional rights. Amendments... 4th "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated". I see nothing "unreasonable" about the searches when it comes to possibly finding an item which may do me or my family harm. 5th "No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime..." What has that got to do with searches by the TSA? 10th... Not sure what you're implying with the 10th Amendment "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution... are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people" and the Constitution states "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States... shall be the supreme Law of the Land."

  • WXYZ Nov 16, 2010

    What is sad, is that TSA, being enabled by the Federal Government is getting away with violations of the civil rights of citizens as stipulated in the Constitution. See 4th, 5th and 10th Amendments. The state of New Jersey, the pilots association and others are gathering to put a stop to what TSA is doing. I will gladly contribute money to fight the TSA. Also, sadly, the US air travel industry is being made to suffer financial damage because of the criminal behavior and methods used by the TSA. The US military oath says that the service member must be willing to kill or be killed...for what? Answer: To preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States. I for one, served 6 years in the military and my committment to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution did not end when I received an Honorable Discharge. Those who are willing to sacrifice their constitutional rights and that of others, in exchange for what TSA claims to be "security", deserve neither.

  • luckyman7 Nov 16, 2010

    Well, I hate to say it because I may be the minority. But scan everyone... heck, if a strip search found a bomb placed somewhere uncomfortable on a terrorist... and I found out later that he was going to be on my plane... and planned on blowing me and my family up... I'd be happy as heck. All this stuff about "invasion of privacy" or "what about my civil rights?" is bull... and if the bomber was found before getting on YOUR plane... you'd be happy too. If an individual gets off on seeing a silhouette of me naked, or getting hands close to my "JUNK"... but it finds a bomb that was slated for my flight... SO BE IT. The "ends" definitely justify the "means". I'd rather be "felt up" than to have my rear "BLOWN UP"!! I’d rather feel as though I was “violated” than to get my rear “OBLITERATED”!!... and if you think, think real hard, about it… I don’t know how you could disagree. Just my “two-cents” on the subject. I look forward to responses to my comment on this subject

  • deton8tor Nov 16, 2010

    I guess it really boils down to an individuals personal values. Do you place a higher value on freedom and dignity or security. Or what percentage of one will you sacrifice to have more of the other. Personally I place a higher value on freedom than I do security. It's a question of personal values I guess.

  • deton8tor Nov 16, 2010

    This security measure will not prevent a determined bomber. It may be a waste of money and a needless invasion of peoples privacy. It would be easy enough to create a devise that is ingested and will not be detected by the full body scanner. Of course it would required the carrier to sacrifice themselves but we all know there seems to be no shortage of terrorist willing to do that. I'm really surprised that it hasn't been done before.

  • donewithecu Nov 15, 2010

    seankelly--Yes, as long as they are going to get know me..they should get to know me as the jokster I am!

  • harmstrong4 Nov 15, 2010

    these actions are completely useless. They have not stopped anything. It is smoke and mirrors. Federal jobs. Thats it. I have flow over a milliion miles all over the world. I have flown on the Israle airlines. They will not load bags until each passenger lines up with their luggage. A bag with no one claiming it is not loaded. They have had no threats in years.

  • wayneboyd Nov 15, 2010

    When your local national airport was granted by cession to the federal government by your states legislature, it fell under Article 1 section 8 clauses 17 and 18 of the Constitution and became at that point a territory belonging to the United States.
    Today when you enter that property, you are under the jurisdiction thereof the United States government and you are subject to its jurisdiction.
    Read the article and section it is self explanatory.
    You left America at the entrance to the airport and your Constitution behind.
    Welcome to the United States.