Saying “no” to TSA’s full body scan may come at a price

by Christopher Elliott on May 5, 2010


Having second thoughts about those new full-body scanners being used at airports by the Transportation Security Administration? The federal agency charged with protecting the nation’s transportation systems may want to take a second look — at you.

It apparently did when Karen Cummings refused to submit to a scan, which uses high-frequency radio waves to see through your clothes. Cummings, who works for a software company in Boston, described what subsequently happened to her at Logan Airport as “unnecessary” and “unpleasant.”

“The pat-down was completely thorough, as though I was a common criminal or a drug pusher,” she said. “The only place I was not touched was in my crotch — and isn’t that the one place they should be checking, after the underwear bomber?”

Cummings is part of a small but growing group of air travelers who say that they’re troubled by the TSA’s use of advanced imaging technology.

Last fall, the agency began installing 150 new scanners (including at Reagan National and BWI Marshall), and it plans to deploy an additional 450 this year. Some passengers are worried about the intrusive nature of the electronic searches, while others have voiced concerns about possible exposure to harmful radiation. (Experts say radiation levels are very low.)

Screening by a full-body scanner is optional for all passengers, according to the TSA. “Those who opt out may request alternative screening at the checkpoint, to include a pat-down,” said Greg Soule, an agency spokesman. Although he declined to offer details on the agency’s screening techniques, he added that checkpoint requirements for passengers departing from the United States haven’t changed since the underwear bomber incident last December. In other words, the TSA claims it isn’t pushing travelers into the scanners and punishing those who decline a scan.

But Cummings and others say they don’t feel as if they have a real choice.

“The additional screening makes you want to go through the scanner, as it is so much more impersonal in the long run,” she told me.

And her experience is hardly an isolated one. Houston-based Web developer Cheryl Wise had a similar confrontation when she refused to be scanned in Denver earlier this year. A TSA screener, who she says was upset by her decision, ordered a “level two” search of her luggage.

“Every compartment of my computer bag was opened and every pocket emptied,” she recalled. “Every compartment or pocket of my computer bag that held an electronic device was wiped separately with an explosives detector, as were my shoes and the inside of my purse that held no electronics at all.” Wise published the entire account on her blog, by-expression.com, under the headline, “TSA screening insanity.”

The TSA has its own blog, of course, which it uses to counter any claims that it has gotten carried away with its tech toys. In a recent post, it praised the full-body scanners, pointing out that since last year, agents had found such items as a pocket knife hidden on someone’s back and a syringe full of liquid concealed in a passenger’s underwear. “These finds demonstrate that imaging technology is very effective at detecting anomalies and can help TSA detect evolving threats to keep our skies safe,” the agency said.

My first instinct was to dismiss the traveler complaints as cases of a few TSA officers being overly vigilant at a time when security has been heightened and when the agency is trying to prove the value of the scanners, which cost $130,000 to $170,000 per unit. But security guru Bruce Schneier told me that he’d heard “lots of anecdotes” about extra screening, too.

And then I went through one of the machines myself, a few weeks ago in Salt Lake City. After I passed through a magnetometer, I was ushered into a large device that looks a little like the teleporter from the Jeff Goldblum version of “The Fly,” asked to empty my pockets and hold my hands above my head.

I admit, the scan felt somewhat invasive, with me holding my hands in the air as if I were an apprehended fugitive. The widely circulated pictures of scanned people — every contour of their bodies visible and their faces electronically airbrushed away — didn’t make me feel any better. Were the hidden pocket knives and syringes filled with liquid worth all this? And what was in that syringe that the TSA confiscated, anyway?

I asked other travelers about their experiences with refusing to use the devices, but I could find no hard evidence that screening dissidents were being penalized in a systematic way.

“I respectfully decline to go through the body scan,” reader Phil Kipnis said he told a TSA officer in San Francisco recently. The officer appeared “startled,” according to Kipnis. Then he pointed Kipnis, a Santa Clara, Calif., business owner, to the secondary screening area.

“A male TSA employee shook his head and ran the wand over my torso and told me to collect my things and turned back to watch the other passengers,” he said.

I believe the TSA when it says that it has no formal policy of punishing passengers who don’t want to go through the full-body scanners. But it doesn’t need one. Just a few stories of overly watchful officers giving people a thorough once-over if they refuse may be enough to persuade reluctant air travelers to submit to a virtual strip-search. And all it needs to reinforce those fears is an occasional shake of the head.

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  • Ron

    I had a similar experience to Cheryl while traveling through Tampa’s airport late last year. After passing through the magnetometer and my bags going through the x-ray machine, I was asked if I minded going through the new “X-ray” machine (That is what the young lady from the TSA called it). I asked if it was voluntary, and was told that it was voluntary.

    So I said that I would prefer not to. This really seemed to confuse her. she asked again if I minded going through the unit and I again asked if it was voluntary…..she said that it was voluntary.

    I again said that I did not wish to. She asked me a third time, and I again said that I preferred not to.

    I was then taken aside for secondary screening of my luiggage, exactly like Cheryl had been subjected to. They went through every pocket and compartment of my carrry-on and laptop bag. When they put things back, it wasn’t all i the right places…..As an experienced business traveler, I know to keep my things in the same place every time, it makes it easier to find something when standing in line.

    In my opinion, the idea that this is “voluntary” is BS. I’ll just give myself more time and watch them like a hawk as they unpack and repack my bag to make sure everything gets placed back in the correct place.

  • Kevin Visser

    If you refuse to be scanned you SHOULD be looked at extra closely. Why is this a surprise? Any time someone refuses it could be because they have something to hide. Karen Cummins is trying to make a story where there isn’t one.

  • Anush

    I had a knee replacement and am always subject to a 2nd screening at airports. At the Miami airport I always volunteer for the FULL BODY SCANNER since this means that a TSA official does NOT have to touch me. The pat down always makes me feel like a criminal. However, I recently departed from the Baltimore airport and AFTER the full body scanner I was then waned and patted down. So I was subjected to 3 levels of screening. I fly frequently and this 3rd level of screening is stupid and a waste of time. I like the full body scanner if it means this ends the screening process for me.

  • Michelle

    Would Karen C prefer TSA continue with the worthless pat-downs they’ve done for years instead of the more thorough method she received? The old pat-down style was a joke.

  • Tom

    Radiation exposure aside, my take is that if the TSA has decided that strip searches are what it’s going to take, then their strip searches should at least *look* as intrusive as they actually are. For that reason, I prefer the patdowns, right in front of the lines of the other travelers.

  • travelnut

    Yet, the recent suspect that tried to set the bomb off in Times Square paid cash for a one way ticket to Pakistan, was on the no fly list, yet had no problem getting on a plane!

  • George

    Another typical Elliott alarmist blog, using terms like “virtual strip search”. Obviously he has never had an “actual” strip search, else he would not use the term.

    Anush is right. With both knees replaced I always set off the walk-thru magnetic scanner, and I welcome the body scanner instead of the pat down I feel is far more “intrusive”. RIC has had them for quite a while. Never had both.

  • Peter

    Like most of you, I travel….a lot. I have refused the Full Body Scan (FBS) every time. No one has ever been rude, although, a TSA agent in DCA actually said “You’re kidding, right?”

    These machines are a joke and an outrageous expense. The best deterrent is a TSA agent with a dog. I purposely fly out of secondary airports knowing that FBS is years away from these departure points.

  • Hapgood

    The TSA’s PR flaks of course will deny any allegations that screeners are highly competent professionals who are prohibited from arbitrarily retaliating against passengers they don’t like. They will also insist that the virtual strip search is “voluntary,” and that passengers have a wide array of options for dealing with items that aren’t explosives or weapons but are nonetheless determined by screeners to be prohibited. That probably does reflect how the official guidelines are written, which lets them selectively quote those otherwise-secret guidelines to neutralize any criticism.

    But screeners in practice have a very strong incentive to “encourage” passengers to “choose” the options that make screening as easy and efficient as possible– for the screeners. Herding passengers through a scanner is easier and faster for screeners than patting them down; and insisting that passengers “voluntarily abandon” a prohibited item is easier and faster than spending the time to inform them about the possibility of returning to their car, making a trip to the post office, or any other “choice.” Given the severe imbalance of power between the TSA and the passenger, there will inherently be a coercive effect to encourage behavior that’s most expedient for the screener.

    So screeners clearly have every incentive to make the experience of anyone who balks at the scanner sufficiently unpleasant to modify this unacceptable behavior, so that in future they will “voluntarily” make the “choice” that easiest for the screeners. Screeners who do this know they won’t suffer any consequences for doing so, since their leadership will always stand behind them and blame the passenger should an “incident” attract enough media attention to require an official TSA response.

    I have reluctantly concluded that there is nothing anyone can do about the TSA. The politics of fear will keep them permanently exempt from any independent oversight or scrutiny, let alone reform. They have a blank check to do whatever they want, however they want. If we choose to fly, we’ll just have to accept being strip searched and subject to whatever inconsistent intrusions the screeners decide to inflict. And we’ll have to learn to behave as docile, terrified little sheepies who avoid trouble by instantly obeying whatever the screener yells at us to do. We don’t have to understand how any of this provides security, but merely accept unquestioningly that it does. That’s just the way things are in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Terrified.

  • Em Hoop

    Almost had debate with myself about traveling by plane or car to an event on my schedule.
    No contest. I borrow audio books from library, fill the cooler with drinks and snacks, and drive.
    I had been spending quite frequently on flying, but I’ve had enough medical radiation to make me refuse any more that’s not necessary.
    And in current economic/political situation, I would not trust a company to be honest about the amount of radiation emitted by those machines. Every new step we take that is called ‘voluntary’ but really is not, is another step toward totalitarianism….no thanks, the airlines will survive without my help…… I’ll have a long drive, but the scenery should be good…….and the book finished by the time i get home……some family members visited for an overnight …. and a motel to have my business one night……not bad……

  • Robert

    The objective of security procedures is to make it more difficult for the bad guys. It’s NEVER perfect. The more difficult it is, the safer we are to fly. So it’s a trade off – inconvenience in the name of security or increased risk. I assume that none of the posters here pose a danger to the flying public so as individuals, to us, it may seem intrusive. But in the aggregate we hear about very few incidents, so security procedures must be doing something right.

    Without security, or with security procedures that don’t make us think that we’re safe, we wouldn’t fly.

  • Carrie Charney

    I often wonder whether all the forboten items found by TSA really are found or if stories are just made up to keep us believing that the screenings are effective.

  • david

    Here in the UK – as I understand it – the body scanner is voluntary. If you don’t want to be scanned then you are free to go home and not take the flight.

    Seems fair to me.

  • Hapgood

    Robert: “So it’s a trade off – inconvenience in the name of security or increased risk.”

    Except that there’s no evidence that the (continually increasing) inconvenience does anything to reduce the risk of terrorist attack. The TSA and the Homeland Security bureaucracy certainly want us to believe that it does, but they offer nothing more convincing than “trust us.” That’s the real problem with the TSA. We know they’re costing us a lot, in terms of both dollars and convenience. But there’s no reason to believe we’re getting anything worthwhile for that cost.

    “But in the aggregate we hear about very few incidents, so security procedures must be doing something right.”

    The other possibility is that terrorist incidents are exceptionally rare. So the “security procedures” have simply not encountered an actual terrorist. That’s why the TSA has to continually brag about their success at finding drugs and fake military jackets, which presumably demonstrates their ability to stop any terrorist who happens to stumble through a checkpoint. But of course, your theory is what the TSA wants us to believe.

    “Without security, or with security procedures that don’t make us think that we’re safe, we wouldn’t fly.”

    Yes, that’s about the only value to the TSA’s security theater. It reassures a lot of people that it’s safe to fly, even though it does nothing to actually make flying any safer. That reassurance comes at at a very high price.

  • Curious

    @Kevin Visser — if we all had a body like yours we probably wouldn’t mind the scan either (aside from the radiation issues). As it is, IF I fly again, I will likely give the screeners their ‘giggle’ of the day…

  • Ron

    I object tot he scanners on medical grounds. Some of the scanners use a form of x-rays (Backscatter x-ray machines). Granted, it is a low dose of radiation that for now, the general consensus is that they are harmless.

    However, another form of x-ray was considered so safe, doctors used it all the time on patients without a real thought to its long term effects, the Cat Scan. See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126082398582691047.html for the story. The Wall Street Journal reported “The risk of cancer associated with popular CT scans appears to be greater than previously believed, according to two new studies published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.”

    Just because someone tells you something is safe when it is first introduced, doesn’t mean they won’t find out years from now it has some side effects. You need to use your own mind and decide if the potential problems are worth saving yourself some tme now.

    I’ll keep on saying no as long it is voluntary….and give myself some extra time for the retalitory pat down and microscopic examination of my luggage that will result.

  • MidMom8949

    I was going to jump in after reading the story, but was pleased to note that several people already made my point.

    As someone with multiple metal parts in my body, I always get the pat down at airports without scanners. It’s quite thorough, including patting down breasts and the inside of legs. I don’t really care, and never take the option of going to a private room. But I have had other passengers stare as though the TSA agent and I are having sex in public.

    I love the body scanners. They are faster and much less obviously intrusive. I don’t really care about someone in a booth seeing my body images; I’ve got the same parts as most of the world.

    Hey–the population is aging quickly. Soon we’ll all have replacement parts and then it will be a real pickle.

  • laura townsend elion

    @ Ron,

    Just because they have recently concluded that there is more radtion in CT scans than previously thought and the risk may be increased, if you read the article, the risk is still very low compared to other factors. And, did you know 1 in 3 people gets cancer overall anyway? As for CTs, and having had quite a few for injuries related to a car accident in my 20s, the benefit of accurately diagnosing the problem far outweighs the posssible slight risk of it contributing to cancer later. If the blood clot on my brain had not been diagnosed accurately thanks to a CT, and then properly treated, there is a 100% chance I would have been dead by now.

    You are subjected to radiation everyday (think the sun) – unless you are a frequent flier to the nth degree, the infinitesimal chance of minutely raising your cancer risk from exposure to FBS is about non-existent. And while its true that decades ago they might have made mistakes analyzing cancer risks, they have far improved that capacity (thus revealing the slightly elevated risks for things like CTS), and you can rely on the current day analysis of the technology used with the scanners. There might be many reasons to forgo the scanners, such as privacy beliefs, or religious considrations, but the health claims are a little far fetched as the average citizen voluntarily subjects themselves to all sorts of cancer causing agents everyday which are far worse. Reminds of the woman I met while caring for my husband on a cancer ward who was complaining about the potential cancer causing risks of plastic drinking bottles – while smoking a cigarette!

  • Susan

    Four times at Salt Lake I have politely declined the “voluntary” scanner and been subject to what boils down to basic harassment. They try to bully you into the scanner with actual threats of (and this was said to me by someone who had no idea what my departure time was) “I cannot guarantee you will make your flight on time.” In other words, we’re going to punish you by keeping you here as long as possible.

    The thing that frustrates me the most is there is no recourse. None whatsoever. Not only are they bullies, they are without accountibility, at least if you want to make your flight and not be “detained” for complaining. At this point I’m all for having the ACLU having a desk at every security checkpoint. If the peons of the TSA knew they could be “detained” themselves they might lose the attitude.

  • Ron

    @Laura

    I was not saying that CT scanners were not to be used, I was simply using an example of something that was once thought to be safe, but later shown to be harmful. I could have used DDT, asbestos or the TSA as examples :-).

    I guess I got off target in my comment, my point was that some people have a variety of reasons that they might not want to “volunteer” to be scanned. My problem is when a person nicely declines to volunteer, they are pressured into doing it, and if they still decline, they are punished with an intrusive search.

    Remember, each time I had the extra search, my bag had already gone through the x-ray machine and found to be ok. I had also safely passed through the magnetometer without beeping. In any other airport without the new backscatter machines, I would be done. I was simply chosen for the extra screening based on the fact that I would not volunteer, not because I was randlomly selected, or because I looked suspicious…..it was payback plain and simple for not doing what they wanted.

    Make it mandatory; or make it a choice upfront…..you go through the scanner, or you get the extra search. Don’t lie to me and say I have a choice, because it seems through my, and a few other’s, experiences, that they are misleading us.

  • K

    It seems TSA screeners don’t like the body scanners much either: http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local-beat/TSA-Fracas-After-Body-Scanner-Reveals-TMI-92971929.html

  • tong

    This seems like an erosion of freedoms that we’ll never get back. Terrorism will never end and the government is not going to give up any of the control it’s gained through all this nonsense. For the 64 million flights every year there are only a handful of security incidences, each one hyped up by the media to make everyone feel unsafe.

    Chances are, if you’re American, your ancestors came here in a leaky boat with no medical care, decent food, or travel insurance in order to live a life of freedom. They were willing to take risks to get what they wanted. Now it seems that any possible threat must be stamped out and all it will cost us are those freedoms our families won for us.

    I’m going to see if I can find some lead paint that will reflect the backscatter x-rays. I’ll use it to write a few choice messages to the TSA across my rear next time I fly.

  • Annmarie

    I’m really having a bit of trouble with the author’s complaint…if she refuses to go through the scanner, which I can understand (I’ve been through them and it’s a bit weird) then why complain about the patdown? Of course it needs to be thorough..do you think the TSA agents enjoy it either? They have to worry about missing something or being accused of sexual touching. One shrieking hysteric of a person called it a “sexual assault”. Please…I was a police officer for 23 years, I don’t like getting patted down either, but had to once in Japan when I set off the Xray machine. They did a thorough job (which they should, but which made me jump and the female and I both laugh)..but that is their job.
    It plainly states that if you don’t want to use the scanner, you will be patted down. How is that coercion? Can we stop the whining and making something out of nothing? The people to really complain to are the terrorists…they are the reason we’re going through all this

  • Hapgood

    Of course it’s an erosion of freedom, but many if not most of us don’t mind that. We’re more than willing to give up our freedom if our Leaders (or men in the appropriate uniforms) tell us that it’s necessary to keep us safe. We may once have been a proud people, but now we’re a nation of cowering sheep who are terrified of everything. We even have a government agency that obligingly provides a special color code to tell us just how terrified to feel.

    So if the Homeland Security Bureaucracy tells us we need to present our papers and get strip searched whenever we want to travel, a few of us will be upset. But many more of us will happily submit, because we fervently want to Believe that doing so will protect us from horrible things. And the desire to Believe is so great that we will rush to the defense of the Homeland Security Bureaucracy whenever critics get too vocal about shattering the Belief. Call them “liberals who hate America” and ignore them!

    Just as the airlines are giving us what we repeatedly show we want (i.e., the cheapest fare and the cruddiest service), the TSA is giving us what we want, in the form of “security measures” that are sufficiently arduous and intrusive to convince enough of us beyond any doubt that they MUST provide effective protection against horrible things. The objective evidence may show that the “security measures” are nothing but security theater, providing no useful protection and wasting a lot of our time, money, and freedom. But many if not most of us do not want to know about that. We just want to Believe that our Leaders and those brave men and women in uniforms herding us through the scanners are protecting us from horrible things.

  • Theodore Hubert

    Kevin Visser and anyone else who states someone must have something to hide by not agreeing to a “VOLUNTARY” request for screening, must not be an American and/or fails to understand the Constitution and the protections of the BILL of RIGHTS, The 1st 10 Amendments to the usA (This is how it was originally stated) Constitution. Under the Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure, allows for this. Everyone needs to learn their history and study, study before your rights are completely taken away. This comes from a 100% Disabled American Veteran.

    Here is the explanation of such: A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement by the government. The term “Bill of Rights” originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or unentrenched. An entrenched bill of rights cannot be modified or repealed by a country’s legislature through normal procedure, instead requiring a supermajority or referendum; often it is part of a country’s constitution and therefore subject to special procedures applicable to constitutional amendments.

  • Blake

    I wonder what would happen if you ‘OH’d’ and ‘AH’d’ during the pat down. Maybe ask if there was a place you could catch a smoke when they were done.

  • Theodore Hubert

    Most of the people aren’t old enough to remember WW II or NAZI Germany and what happened there. They didn’t have scanners but they confiscated all the weapons men and women had to prevent themselves from protecting themselves. Do any of you so called Americans know what you are talking about. The GOVERNMENT is the WASHINGTON, DC and TSA isn’t the Government. The PEOPLE are the government and dictate the power of the government, not the other way around.

    Learn about history or it will repeat its self. Do any of you nit wits understand that the so called Government (De facto) is not the government but a corporation (UNITED STATES) all in CAPS, not the usA, the Republic. There is no MONEY either, It is legal, not lawful, at required by the COINAGE ACT of 1792, which dictates that COIN SPECIES is the only LAWFUL MONEY, not PAPER. The Federal Reserve is a PRIVATE BANK and has nothing to do with the Federal Government. It is no more FEDERAL than McDonald’s.

    Wake up people. This country has been under a constant state of emergency since 1933, under FDR (President). The government has no authority to tell any of us that we have just ‘privileges’, not
    unalienable rights we were born with and the government can’t undermine the rights but demanding we all get CERTIFICATES for privileges and tell us we have to get ‘permission’ to do what we have a NATURAL RIGHT to do.

    The goal if for the men and women to dictate Government and in order to do that, men and women must assemble on their counties and LAWFULLY take back the country by repopulating the Republic. Fail to due your duty and you will continue to be nothing more than ILLEGAL 14th AMENDMENT CITIZENS as you are, as you lack the knowledge of what it means to be ‘FREE’. FREE isn’t free. You have to fight for your rights, not think you deserve them.

  • mother with disabled child

    I’m really disturbed about the full body scans. I felt like they treated me like a criminal when going through them. “Put your hands up” they say. Isn’t that what police say when they are apprehending a criminal? I’m also very concerned about my mentally disabled child. I will always have to ask them to do a different security procedure on him because there is no way for him to comply with the body scanner requirements of spreading your feet apart (again just like they ask criminals to do) and raising your hands. The process to get him through security will be difficult every time. Perhaps impossible. I hope sensitivity for the disabled is part of the TSA employee training!!!

  • james grey

    Amazing number of sheeple making comments.

  • Sam

    I’m getting ready to travel out of FLL airport and they are rolling out the new scanners. I’m planning to decline because of the RADIATION and my concerns about life time exposure and increases in cancer rates. I plan to leave extra time, check my bag so that I have very little with me and bring a print out from the TSA web site showing that I can decline.

  • Tom

    Use of full body scanners is just another in a series of steps the the government and TSA are imposing on our rights as private citizens of the United States of America. I work at the RDU airport and talk with TSA agents everyday. I am appalled when they use terms like “herding” and the “corral”. They often refer to an individual as a “unit” and the screening “processing units”. I remember when they were know as passengers — and but for them our airlines and all TSA folks would not have a job… I for one would not want some who knows what TSA agent gawking at my wife’s anatomy. Check out the images for yourself and see how vivid they are. I hope my fellow Americans will stand up by saying heck NO to the full body scanning. If everyone did, the TSA would be forced to treat passengers more like humans… not to mention save a lot of money.

  • don

    Why blame TSA? It was Obama who ordered rapid expansion of these machines, and provided our tax money, to enable this, in response to the last terrorist attempt with fire crackers in the underwear.
    None of you raised an outrage at his announcement. Now be the sheeple and follow procedure, set by the leader you voted in.

    But, do take a moment to recall that neither Obama, nor his family have to suffer this ignominy, when they board the plane that you have purchased for Him.

  • NAZI TSA

    This x-rays are more dangerous than the regular doctor x-rays! Does anyone realize that NO ONE SHOULD HAVE MORE THAN 3 FULL BODY SCANS IN THEIR LIFETIME!? This is extremly dangerous! TSA SCANS MUTATE THE INDIVIDUAL’S DNA!

    Not only do they cause cancer but they render you sterile! If any young woman gets in the TSA scanner even once, the chances that her offspring will be born with birth defects increase BY A WHOPPING 25%! From just ONE SCAN!! 4 scans = 100% that your babies will be born sterile and with major birth defects! And 100% that cancer is now growing, undetected, somwehere in your body! Testicles? Lungs? Pancreas? Tongue? You will find out soon enough but sadly too late for it to be cured.

    JUST SAY NO TO THE TYRANNY OF TSA FULL-BODY SCANS!

  • Judge Andrew Napolitano

    Read A Nation of Sheep by Judge Andrew Napolitano

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  • Traveler

    USA’s own article explains why these machines are bad:

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/travel/ 2010-07-13-bodyscans13_ST_N.htm

    The TSA cannot answer this question:

    “Do these machines increase the risk of cancer “WHATSOEVER” ?

    Their answer should be “Yes, No, We don’t know”…

    NOT, “they have as much radiation as a cel phone”.

    That does NOT answer the question presented.

    It is like asking, “Do you like to go to the movies ?”, and the answer given is “green”….

    Just answer TSA…. Yes, No, We don’t know. They will not because the answer is “Yes, it does increase one’s cancer risk, over time”. It is a low risk, but a RISK nonetheless. That should be people’s concerns. Not who sees you naked.

    In the photos of the people from the machines, you can see their tibia (leg bone). That my friends, is enough radiation to increase cancer.

    As for the millimeter wave machines, Medical FACT: They alter your DNA strands.

    The machines also cannot see inside ones rectum or vagina, so they are USELESS.

    Make me go though them and I, and thousands of others, STOP flying.

    I’ll take the pat search no matter what.

    Oh yea, I forgot to mention the TSA SWORE that the images could not be stored…..

    Guess what?

    They LIED: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/0 8/05/body-scanners-in-courthouses-have-stored-th ousands-of-rather-personal-images/

  • Mark

    Condition the masses. Get them used to even more obtrusive security measures down the road. Just think in the future, anus screening. “Shut up slave, bend over, you’re supposed to like this…

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  • Time to Travel?

    Both sides have very valid points and I agree with both: I want to be protected when I’m flying and I want my privacy to be protected. Which outways the other? Full Body Scans: If you are “concerned” about their ability to “see” your body….really? If anyone really thinks that these people give you another thought once you pass through your ego needs to be put in check. They see too many people in an hour/day/month to think about you, your wife, your husband. I’ve seen what the scans see: yes it is the image of your body, fat and all. (I am overweight so don’t get upset). Who care? 10 seconds and you are no longer a thought. Do you care this much when you go to the pool and are there for hours??

    As for radiation….no one knows….no matter what the manufacture, TSA, or any experts else says, no one knows so do it, don’t do it for this reason it is your choice. Remember most things at one time or another caused cancer and most things at one time or another were safe.

    I absolutely think it STINKS we have to do this because of terrorists. I hate the long lines through security even before the scans. I hate having to put all liquids in 3 oz containers in a clear quart size bag. I hate taking my shoes off and walking on the (nasty) floor that I am sure the person in front of me has athlete’s foot. What I would hate more….my husband, child, mother, father, brother, etc. being on a flight that terrorists took over and flew the plane into a building and even worse than that…it could have been prevented.

    Now with this being said….TSA employees need to be more understanding with passengers who choose not to go through the scans. (Yes, I understand you “feel” multiple people a day and that could get very old….BUT it is your job that you are being paid for, many do not have jobs and will gladly trade places with you.) TSA employees please remember that this ONE passenger has to endure this very few times and it is a bit uncomfortable. As for searching the passengers bag when they refuse to go through the scan….COME ON, it’s been through the X-Ray and was fine.

    I do believe had TSA approached this differently there would not be this much turmoil about the scans.

  • anonymous

    The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners at the airports.

    It’s an armored booth you step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on your person. They see this as a win-win situation for everyone, with none of this crap about racial profiling. It also would eliminate the costs of a long and expensive trial. Justice would be swift. Case closed!

    You’re in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter an announcement comes over the PA system .
    “Attention standby passengers — we now have a seat available on flight Number 6709. Shalom!”

  • http://www.tedsimages.com Ted

    @Time to travel?: You’re right that 9/11 could have been prevented. An entire Congressionally-mandated commission found a chain of failures in the various “intelligence” bureaucracies (which, if anything, were exacerbated when the Bush administration created the “Homeland Security” bureaucracy). But airport screening was not part of that chain, since the hijackers violated no restrictions that existed at the time.

    The highly visible reaction of replacing the lowest-bidding private firms with a federal agency was actually a sensible idea. It’s still nothing more than security theatre that provides no real protection against the sort of failure that allowed 9/11 to happen– by the time a terrorist plot reaches the airport, the system has failed and it’s too late. But “enhanced” security theatre was nonetheless very useful to reassure the public that it’s safe to fly.

    Unfortunately, the TSA has metastasized from providing useful security theatre into an arrogant, out of control bureaucracy that increasingly behaves like the security apparatus of a former Soviet-bloc country. If you read the reports of periodic GAO audits, there’s no reason to believe that the TSA provides anything that’s either effective or cost-effective. But in their zeal to show us that they can react to every incident with new hassles and restrictions, they’re subjecting us to costly unproven technology as well as intrusive procedures that increasingly sacrifice privacy, liberty, and now even bodily integrity.

    Many people are willing to accept all of this. They want to believe that all the rituals of shoes and quart baggies, all the uniformed officers yelling commands, and now the irradiation and/or groping will keep them safe. They don’t care whether there’s any reason to believe that; they just want to feel safe and protected. The TSA seems to be operating under the assumption that security is synonymous with hassle and intrusion, and some people apparently buy that and find it reassuring. That’s what security theatre is all about.

    But I think the strip search and its alternative (or punitive?) “pat down” may now have exceeded the limit of what people are willing to accept for “security.” Sure, there are people who do find it reassuring, or else are willing to put aside their concerns because they have faith that the TSA is a good agency that must have a very good reason doing it. But a growing number of people have lost faith in the TSA, and are not willing to accept this new level of intrusion and the possible risk of radiation exposure. But the TSA is determined to make every passenger go through the scanner, and it’s clear they don’t care whether anyone objects to it. Rather than addressing the concerns, they’re using force. If you refuse the scanner, you’ll be punished with a humiliating intimate “pat down,” and possibly an additional punitive bag search.

    Yes, if the TSA had done things differently there would not be this problem. But the TSA does things its way regardless of what anyone thinks about it. They most likely regard the growing opposition to the scanners as a problem with the people who oppose them, which is best solved by administering a punitive “pat down” to anyone who refuses to be scanned. And that’s a much bigger problem than either the scanners and the groping officers.

  • Beez

    To David from UK:
    I *wish* we could opt out and go home. Unfortunately, there is a screwy law that says once you attempt to enter the secured area, you can be fined and jailed for not undergoing a check, so one way or the other, you are getting scanned or patted down at that point.

  • maddie

    funny thing…I was in an airport in NY last winter and i asked if I could get pat down instead of going through the scanner, and said I had to go through the scanner..AND they pat me down after that! Seriously. I’m so angry..

  • Bman

    If you are female and attractive, you get scanned. Funny, because someone of substantial size (obese) has a greater ability to hide objects in rolls and within large clothing. But the TSA perv does not want to see large Marge go through the scanner. Watch next time you fly and see if selection appears random.

  • Lola

    Believe me it is very random and we see very large males and females as well as older people.  Also it is not pleasant or a thrill to see all of everyone’s body issues. The person is scanned and it is looked at for no longer then 30 seconds and then erased and moving on to the next one.  Very impersonal and not thinking about it 1 second later.

  • Mick

    I travel very often. Recently I purposely refused the full body scan to test the system. When I refused the agent asked “Why” I told him 2 reasons, First, I did not want to receive more then 1 scan per month and I had just been through a scanner last week.  Second, Because it’s my right under federal law.  They told me I would have to submit to a full body pat down. I said OK, I would like a female officer. (I’m a male) He told me I would be patted down by a male officer since I’m a male.  I replied that it’s also my federal right to choose the gender of the agent conducting the pat down.  He told me they did not have a female officer in the area that was trained to do a pat down. I replied “Find one, I’ll wait”  well they did, and she was working in our area, imagine that!!
    well she conducted the pat down in full view of the public, which is also my choice to have it done in public or private room, I chose public. She was very professional by also very nervous (embarrassed maybe) I did not say anything to her, just followed her instructions precisely.  When she finished I collected my belonging and continued on. Let me add, that when I initially said that I will choose the pat down instead of the scan, I had two people standing near me ask if this was permissible. I started to tell them their federal rights to refuse a scan, when a TSA agent told me to keep quit.  I ignored him, and he once again told be he would call a police officer and have me removed from the are if I did not stop talking to the other people. Once again, I ignored him and finished my comments to the person.  They quickly ushered me to the area were the pat down was to take place.  One of ther people who had asked me about our rights stop nearby to witness the pat down and she was told to keep moving along.  TSA DOES NOT want the public to know that this is your right to choose.  I am not trying to ovoid screening, I”m just want people to know you have choices.

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