Saturday :: Nov 27, 2004

Security Over Virtue

by pessimist

Not since the days of the infamous 'Fly Me' ad campaigns have women had reason to be inflamed with the air travel industry. To be fair, the reasons for the increased security which has aroused this ire are more than apparent. One does have to wonder, however, if the due diligence being paid to security measures really involves security - or salaciousness.

Airport pat downs raise concerns about sex harassment

Airport security pat downs might constitute sexual harassment and discriminate against women, the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday. The ACLU is concerned that women, more than men, are targeted for pat downs. If so, that raises questions whether the Transportation Security Administration is discriminating on the basis of gender, said Barry Steinhardt, of the ACLU's New York office. "What they're doing is subjecting women to very aggressive, intrusive searches," he said. "We're worried that this is, in fact, sexual harassment."

After receiving numerous complaints from around the nation, the organization hopes to meet with top Homeland Security administrators next week to ask whether screeners are given specific standards on how to select passengers and conduct secondary screenings.

I'll point out these specific standards when they come up in another article cited later in this post.

Passenger Rhonda Gaynier, who said she was given a "breast exam" by screeners in Tampa last month, was so upset she retained Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer, to study the feasibility of a class-action suit against the Transportation Security Administration. "People are so offended by this, they can't believe it," said Gaynier, a New York attorney. "It's like this isn't the United States."

With the bustling Thanksgiving travel weekend under way, the security administration insists pat downs are necessary because passengers could hide non-metallic explosives under bulky clothing and get through magnetometers undetected. Under new procedures for secondary screenings imposed on Sept. 22, screeners are required to use the back of their hands to check breasts, genitals and buttocks. Female screeners must pat down women and male screeners, men. The initiative began after two Russian airliners exploded Aug. 24, killing 90. Two Chechen women are thought to have hidden explosives under their clothing.

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Lauren Stover denied that women are being singled out more than men. "We do not discriminate against any gender, race or ethnicity," she said. "Our bottom line is to keep explosives off an airplane." The airlines are required to randomly select a certain percentage of passengers for a secondary screening.

Since September, the security agency has received 250 complaints, mostly from women, Stover said. She noted that is a small number in light of the 1.8 million passengers who fly each day from 450 U.S. airports.

There's a reason why the numbers of complaints are so low. I'll point that out when it comes up in another article cited in this post.

How It's Supposed To Be

The lapdog media is letting the public know how to behave when violated - it's for your own good!

Airport Pat-Downs: Are They Going Too Far?
Screeners Should Always Be Same Sex As Traveler

With one of the busiest travel days ahead, officials say those traveling by plane could expect to wait in security lines for about 40 minutes and some are concerned about the screening process at security gates.

There are three reasons travelers would have to undergo extra security screening at the airport. Travelers should be prepared for a secondary secreening if they are randomly selected, set off the metal detector or if the airline chooses them, WLWT News 5's Juliette Vara reported.

News 5 went through the secondary screening process to see just how far the security measures are taken. At first, the process may seem routine. Travelers are asked to remove their jacket and shoes. They are also asked to place their carry-on items in a bin, Vara reported. Once the traveler walks through the metal detectors, the secondary screening begins. Security officers scan their entire body with a metal detector, which could take about 60 seconds.

The third step is an upper body search with the passenger's arms held out, palms facing up. The security officer asks the passenger if there are any areas that would be sensitive for them to touch. The officer will then begin the pat-down, squeezing the arms, back and stomach, searching for hidden items and explosives.

Moving to the front of the passenger, the screener explains that while touching the potentially sensitive areas, they would be using the back of the hand. Female passengers should be prepared that the screener will check underneath their bra, which is a potential hiding place. While searches are limited to the upper body, a lower body search is sometimes required. If a lower body search is needed, a law enforcement officer then takes over. If at any point a passenger feels uncomfortable being patted down in front of others, they can request to have the search conducted in a private area. Experts urge travelers to remember that the person conducting the search should always be the same sex as the passenger.

Inspecting the passengers bags is the final step. All items in the bag are removed and checked thoroughly.

The entire process takes about 5 to 10 minutes with the single intention of making everyone's holiday happy and safe.

There - don't you feel better knowing that Bu$hCo CARES ?

How It Really Is

As this article points out, security doesn't appear to be such a high priority as we're being told it is. After all, wouldn't groping women while 'searching for explosives or weapons' be more fun than possibly risking one's life with inspecting unttended lugage?

Some Complain Airport 'Pat-Down' Searches Invade Privacy
Air Travelers Should Expect Body Searches

Expect heightened security at the Louisville International Airport this Thanksgiving holiday after a WAVE 3 investigation uncovered security lapses there. But where should the line be drawn when it comes to manual pat-down searches at airport security checkpoints?

Earlier this month, as part of a WAVE 3 Investigation, we had a field producer leave a bag, capable of holding 15 pounds of explosives, unattended in the middle of the main terminal. As our cameras rolled, it sat unnoticed for more than an hour. Since that investigation, WAVE 3 has learned that there has been an increase in passengers reporting unattended bags to security personnel. An airport spokesperson says the airport has also reaffirmed the need for airport police and Transportation Security Administration workers to watch for unattended bags.

Problem Solved - Now go away!

Meanwhile, the TSA is now coming under fire for what some are calling an invasion of privacy in the form of new security measures announced in September that expanded pat-downs at security checkpoints. As millions take to the skies this Thanksgiving holiday, body searches will be common, even for those who don't set off metal detectors.

More than two centuries ago, founding father Ben Franklin wrote: "They that can give up essential Liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." But now in a post-911 world, many who travel by air, like Eleanor Morrison, believe "that's what our world has come to."

It's becoming a modern debate, with some people believing that "whatever has to be done should be done" to ensure safety; but other people feel the body searches are intrusive. Lili Lutgens, with the ACLU of Kentucky, believes such searches go against what this country stands for. "When the practices that we choose to increase our safety are so intrusive on our liberty, this isn't the United States anymore."

It's the most "hands-on" security our nation's airline passengers have ever experienced: TSA screeners are now being instructed to pat down travelers who appear suspicious because of bulky clothing, not just those who set off metal detectors. Screeners will also be allowed to use the inside of their hands to conduct the searches. Under the previous policy, only the backs of hands could be used. That's OK with Morrison. "I would rather be safe than not. I don't have any problem with them looking inside of my clothes or patting me down."

While the changes make some feel more secure, others worry subjective pat-downs could lead to race and gender profiling. "A disproportionate number of people who have been singled out for pat-down searches have in fact been women," Lutgens said. "Many of the searches have been quite intrusive." Last month, two women in Lexington complained that TSA workers groped their breasts during pat-down searches.

Equal Right To Intrusive Searches

Steve Delvillar says he was "was subjected to one of these pat-downs ... I thought it was a bit intrusive myself." Delvillar thinks the government is going too far. "I think it's necessary to have good security measures. I'm not so sure that, given the X-ray screening and the other measure taken, I don't know if it's necessary to have the personal invasion of your own space."

It's a matter of privacy versus security, in a world where the line is hard to draw. By policy, only female screener are supposed to pat down female passengers, but there have already been cases where no female TSA workers were available, and female passengers were patted down by male screeners. Passengers do have the right to request a private screening.

When we contacted the TSA for comments on this story almost two weeks ago, we were promised a demonstration of what passengers could expect from the expanded pat-down searches. But despite repeated follow up calls, we never heard back from the TSA.

I'm shocked - as I'm sure you are - that the government has been so forthcoming about this issue! That's why it took a public figure to make this issue public knowledge - and get the uproar started:

Actress Gets Airport Pat-Down
Patti LuPone Gets Frisked

She's a Broadway star who has dazzled audiences in such hits as Evita (for which she won the Tony award in 1980) and a rousing revival of Anything Goes. But, as a private citizen, actress Patti LuPone tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, she was the victim of an airport screener who went too far.

LuPone has joined the increasing number of passengers who believe the pat-downs cross the line. She was recently stopped and publicly frisked at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Says LuPone, "It was during the initial screening. ...I took off my leather jacket. I took off my belt,, because they have metal in them. I did what I have the knowledge to do."

Since she was traveling from a warm climate (Fort Lauderdale) to a colder climate (Chicago), LuPone explains, she had dressed in layers. "And then the initial screener said, 'Take off your shirt.' And I said, 'If I take off my shirt, I'm going to be exposed.' He said, 'OK.'

"I passed through the metal detector without any incident," continues the 55-year-old actress, "and he waved me into secondary screening, and I questioned him. I said, 'What am I doing here?' (He said), 'You said you wouldn't take your shirt off.'

"I thought, 'Am I in the time-out chair?'"

She took off her shirt and then asked the initial screener what he wanted next. He never spoke to her, she says, even though she asked for more information. "And out of nowhere," LuPone says, "this woman comes and starts to give me a breast exam, not using the back of her hands, using the palm of her hands. I was shocked. I was not in a private environment. I was out there in the public and totally taken by surprise, humiliated and shocked!"

LuPone suggests that better communication between the Transportation Security Administration and passengers would be helpful. In fact, she tells Smith, "I think that if there was communication between the TSA and the passengers, the passengers would be willing to do anything. Nobody wants to get into a flying bomb."

After her encounter with the initial screener, LuPone spoke to three other screeners who, she says, "were so compassionate and sympathetic...I actually called the TSA and commended these guys, because they knew how to handle a passenger in distress. The original screener did not." She says she told the later screeners: "If you communicate to me, there is nothing I won't do for you. But you want to withhold the information." She reports that the screeners told her that they are not allowed to share certain information with passengers.

Concludes LuPone, "As my husband said, they're closing the barn doors after the horse is out. This stuff is hindsight. ...They need to take another initiative and be smarter about their screening."

Without your celebrity status, Patti, can we even be sure that this issue would ever have been raised? People in the media know who you are - and it takes someone of your status to get their attention.

'Humiliating' Airport Searches Irk Female Passengers
New Airport Search Regulations Lead to Complaints

She was singled out, told to strip off her shirt in public and obtrusively patted down at airport security. But actress Patti LuPone is not complaining about the search, she's just asking for better communication. It happened at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, when she was picked out for a "secondary screening" that turned into a humiliatingly intrusive experience. "I kept going, 'this is really rude, what is going on? What is going on?'" LuPone told Good Morning America today. "I was shocked that I had been felt up."

An Involuntary 'Breast Exam'

LuPone, 55, a Tony and Drama Desk award-winning Broadway actress, is no female terrorist. The star of musicals such as Sweeney Todd and Evita told GMA that it was not the fact that she was singled out, but the manner in which it was carried out that was most offensive. After being made to take off her shirt, which she said 'exposed her', a female screener gave her a 'breast exam'. "Without asking, without telling me what was going on, just boom, in and when I was looking at the right breast she had already moved to the left breast," she said. "It was quite shocking, humiliating and there was no explanation."

'You Need to Communicate'

It was the failure to inform her about what was going on or what a secondary screening would entail that most upset LuPone. "I said to these screeners, I said, 'you need to communicate with the passengers,' " she said. "I don't think there's a passenger that would not cooperate to their fullest if they knew what was going on." But after she had filed a complaint, LuPone charged that TSA screeners told her they were not allowed to tell passengers what was going on.

The Offal-cial Response

Speaking on Good Morning America, David Stone, a TSA spokesman, said he was aware of LuPone's complaint. In an attempt to put the problem in perspective, he said that about 15 percent of the 2 million people who fly every day are now subjected to pat-downs. And out of that figure, the TSA receives an average of about 12 to 14 complaints a week about screeners' failures to communicate with passengers. "I take that comment and her feedback seriously," said Stone. "The whole organization does. Even though it's 12 or 14 a week, each of those complaints needs to be remedied and we need to make sure our screeners get it right every time."

Getting It Right?

Out of roughly 100 million airline passengers since Sept. 20 when the more-aggressive procedures took effect until Nov. 14 the last date for which figures are available the TSA has logged 260 complaints, mostly from women.

Businesswoman Nancy Kho was one who thought a female screener went way too far. "She felt up underneath my bra straps and just about everywhere else, you know," said Kho, during an interview with World News Tonight. "It was very thorough. And the whole time it was happening, I was just in full view of all the other travelers."

For LuPone, a frequent airline traveler, a minor change in the way torso searches are accomplished would be welcome. "I deserve to know," she said. "Then you can do whatever you want, but if you don't tell me and you think you can cop a feel, I'm going to have a problem."

Many women have a problem - but they don't have the media's attention to express their complaints:

Airport pat-downs trigger alarm
They may be all in the interests of travelers' safety, but personal searches have some people up in arms

It was one thing for Caroline Snipes to slip off her high-wedged sandals and heavy-knit sweater before walking through a metal detector. It was another thing to stand with her feet apart and arms out and have a stranger touch her breasts. "She basically felt me up. I'm not a real squeamish person, but I just felt violated," said Snipes, a 25-year-old Alaska law enforcement officer, as she waited for her flight to Montana at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport yesterday.

As the airport braced for the busiest travel day of the year, many passengers complained bitterly about the new pat-down searches the federal government instituted this fall, in which airport screeners are now directed to pat the bodies of certain passengers. The increased security measure, which is supposed to help find explosives, targets all passengers, but has particularly incensed women. Around the country, women have threatened lawsuits, shed underwire bras, and, at times, ditched flying. When they have refused to submit to the searches, they have been barred from flights.

This is one of the reasons I cited above that complaints aren't more numerous.

"I couldn't work the next day," said Lisa Lynch, a 44-year-old doctoral student from Edmonds, after a recent pat-down. On a round trip from Denver, she endured two such searches, including one in which a female screener ran two fingers under each breast and a hand up the insides of both thighs. "It was awful. What if I was a rape victim, or had a history of sexual abuse?" she said. Lynch, who flies nearly once a week, said she has filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union and contacted Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.

A spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration said the pat-downs, which began in September, are a response to the 9/11 commission's recommendation of increased screening for explosives. "I think we understand the feelings of privacy and being uncomfortable. I think also our screeners understand that, and the process is certainly not one they necessarily enjoy, either," said Jennifer Peppin, a spokeswoman for the TSA's Northwest region. "But it's a very important mission that they're assigned to, and that is to keep us safe and keep things off the planes that do harm."

Right! I'm a normal heterosexual male, and even if I took this job of searching females for explosives seriously, do you really think that deep down inside there isn't some little piece of me that isn't enjoying this process? Especially when these 'guidelines' to which I referred above allow for a great deal of leeway in my decision as to who gets to benefit of my attention?

Screeners are supposed to pat down passengers if a metal detector goes off or if a passenger is wearing something bulky or baggy and the contours of the body are not visible.

Admit it, guys. Doesn't this seem like an open invitation to check out that 36 DD in the baggy sweater coming through the inspection line? And her sister too?

Also, some passengers are randomly selected for a 'secondary' search, which includes a scan with a hand wand, a bag search and a pat-down. About 10 percent of all passengers are selected, Peppin said. Screeners doing pat-downs are supposed to be the same gender as the passenger. They are instructed to explain what they're doing and to use the backs of hands for 'sensitive' areas, including genitals, buttocks and women's breasts. Passengers can request a private room for a pat-down.

"They're looking for something that is concealed on the body that may not have been detected by the metal detector," said Peppin. Yesterday, she said a screener in Atlantic City, N.J., found, through a pat-down, a knife disguised as a pen in a woman's bra.

While these things are going to happen, how is this following example justified?

But many passengers have found the searches intrusive and unnecessary. Others said screeners used the front or side of their hands, and not the back of the hand. "Look at what I'm wearing," said Snipes, as she stood up and showed off a thin, tight, stretchy, short-sleeved shirt that revealed every curve of her chest and torso. "Does it look like I'm hiding anything?"


An 83-year-old woman, whose pacemaker had apparently triggered the metal detector, said she was embarrassed when a stranger singled her out and ran her hands up and down her body. "I'm an old lady," said the California woman, who didn't want to be named. "I thought, 'For God's sake, what are you looking for?' I've never had anyone do that to me before."

In New York, a woman is considering filing a lawsuit after a pat-down in Florida, the Dallas Morning News reported. A Colorado woman complained to the TSA after a screener asked her to lift her shirt and expose her stomach in front of several men, while her toddler cried, the paper said. A woman in Florida was recently asked to strip off her belt, shoes and leather jacket -- and then her shirt. After much protest, she took off her shirt to reveal a thin, see-through camisole, which didn't stop a screener from touching her breast and groin area, The New York Times reported.

Who Says Chivalry Is Dead?

Doug Honig, a spokesman for the ACLU in Washington state, said the agency has gotten several complaints and plans to discuss them with the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security. "Everybody wants to be safe when we travel, but we don't see groping women in airports as a way to make us safer," Honig said. He said the agency doesn't object to the searches if triggered by a metal detector or suspicious behavior, but he was concerned that screeners now seem to have more discretion and less guidance. And such searches must be done with dignity, he said.

And Maybe Some Enjoy The Attention?

Some people, such as 58-year-old Jenny Kreindl, said they didn't mind a pat-down. "I understand it and it's just something I accept," said Kreindl, a Bellingham nurse who has been subjected to many pat-downs. She has flown four times since September, and each time the gold bangle around her wrist, which she can't remove, has triggered a metal detector. "I've never had anybody do anything inappropriate. They tell you exactly what they're going to do."

Patted Down by The Carnival Clown

Some of you older folk will remember the midway gag of blowing a blast of air up under a skirt, similar to that famous Marilyn Monroe photo. Why do I not think, given my reasons stated above, that this 'solution' to this problem is an improvement? Suppose the air regularotr is 'broken' and 'can't be adjusted', so you'll just have to let us see your undergarments in the interests of public safety?

For some passengers, relief may be on the horizon. The government is testing a machine that can detect explosives less intrusively, by blowing a puff of trace-detecting air on people as they walk through a portal. Officials are also watching how an X-ray machine is being used in England. But if pat-downs are intrusive, the X-ray, which takes an extremely graphic picture of a passenger's body, may be worse. "TSA ... has big privacy issues with that technology," Peppin said.

Oh! NOW they think of privacy issues!!! It hasn't been something deemed especially important in the search guidelines!

Are airport security pat-downs too personal?

A pat-down inspection by Nashville airport security officers left Cynthia Jones, 38, of Murfreesboro, feeling violated after her breasts were touched. "I was going through as always, and I was asked to take off my jacket and take off my shoes. I got beeped, so I was sent to an area where they wand you," said Jones, an accountant. "The next thing I know, a lady came over and said, 'Where I'm going to touch you in delicate places, I will use the back of my hand.' I thought, 'What did you say?' but you only have a split second to think. Then I felt her hands going over my breast and on my left breast, she ran her pinky finger under the underwire of my bra. It was extremely violating."

After the search, Jones said, she called her mother for support. "It was violating. I said to my mother, 'I felt like I was felt up.' "

Jones said she understood the need for safety in light of the 9/11 attacks and downed airplanes in Chechnya in September, but said the pat-downs were 'ridiculously going too far'. "It seems like an extreme situation. I fully understand people are concerned after 9/11. It was an absolute tragedy, but I think we are going to extremes to give them a false sense of security. What's next, an absolute strip search to fly across the country on business? I don't think it's necessary."

The American Civil Liberties Union hopes to meet with top Homeland Security administrators next week to ask whether screeners are given specific standards on how to select passengers and conduct secondary screenings. The ACLU is concerned that women, more than men, are targeted for pat-downs. If so, that raises questions whether the Transportation Security Administration is discriminating on the basis of gender, said Barry Steinhardt, of the ACLU's New York office. "What they're doing is subjecting women to very aggressive, intrusive searches," he said. "We're worried that this is, in fact, sexual harassment."

David Beecroft, federal aviation director for the Nashville International Airport, said the searches were 'absolutely necessary' and said few people had complained. "We have 2 million passengers who pass through our airports a day, and only 266 have filed complaints since August." No local complaints have been logged, but Jones said she was writing a letter to the Transportation Security Administration to complain about her treatment two weeks ago.

The reasons appear below shortly.

Beecroft said the pat-downs were the only way to check for nonmetallic explosives, which were believed to have downed the two Russian airplanes in September. In those instances, two Chechen women were thought to have somehow smuggled non-metallic explosives onto the airplanes, causing explosions that downed them both. "Would you rather have us know about a threat and ignore it because it is inconvenient? How irresponsible would that be?" Beecroft said.

Beecroft said the search of Jones was standard procedure. When patting down a woman, a female security officer runs the back of her hand under the breast and along its contours, he said. Beecroft said security officers had been trained to do the searches and conduct them in a professional manner. The pat-down should last no more than a few seconds. If Jones felt uncomfortable, Beecroft said, she should have alerted security officers. "We want passengers to be aware of this new procedure and understand that it is a very necessary security measure."

Some Like It Hot, And Some Like It - Not

Yesterday as passengers queued up to go through the security checkpoint, most were aware of the pat-down check. "I understand and am OK with it as long as they are not rude," said Gayle Coats of Murfreesboro, who was flying to Kansas City. As she moved through the security checkpoint, she set the sensor off once, removed her shoes and was allowed through without a search.

Behind Coats in line was Stephanie Crouch, 23, of Cookeville, Tenn., who was traveling to New York with her mother for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. She was not OK with the prospect of being searched. "I don't want them touching my breasts," she said, "but I'll have to let them."

Her mother, Diane Crouch, thought the searches were fine. "I just want to be safe."

Standing outside, watching her luggage being searched for traces of explosives, Laurie Morra welcomed the checks. "I lived in New York City when the attacks happened. I think the searches are excellent. The more security, the better."

Involuntary Exuditude

Women object to airport searches
New TSA rules allow screeners to pat down passengers, which many female travelers say is humiliating.

At a security checkpoint recently at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport, Patti LuPone, the singer and actress, recalled, she was instructed to remove articles of clothing. "I took off my belt, I took off my clogs, I took off my leather jacket," she said. "But when the screener said, 'Now take off your shirt,' I hesitated. I said, 'But I'll be exposed!' " Lupone says she removed her shirt after vehemently protesting, revealing the thin, see-through camisole that she was wearing. Next, she was given a pat-down by a screener who, she said, "was all over me with her hands," including her groin area and breasts. When she persisted in her complaints, she said, she was barred from her flight.

Heather L. Maurer, a business executive from Washington, had a similar experience at Logan Airport in Boston recently. Maurer reluctantly agreed to a search by a male security officer when a female screener was not available. After he gave her a full body pat-down, she said, "he lifted my shirt and looked down the back of my pants. I said, 'I am really uncomfortable having you feel me up,' but I basically had no choice. It was either that or miss my flight."

And a few weeks ago, Jenepher Field, 71, who walks with the aid of a cane, was subjected to a breast pat-down at the airport outside Kansas City, Mo.

These women and a good many others, both frequent and occasional travelers, say they are furious about recent changes in airport security that have increased both the number and the intensity of pat-downs at the nation's 450 commercial airports. And they are not keeping quiet.

In dozens of interviews, women across the country say they were humiliated by the searches, often done in view of other passengers, and many said they had sharply reduced their air travel as a result.

Frankly, this is the only way that anything will be done about this. Money talks, and when the airlines complain that these specific security measures are costing them profits, the government walks. They will be changed.

Gender Neutrality

While some men have complained about the groping nature of the searches, women object the most. Several women interviewed said that male colleagues had scoffed at their complaints, saying that a physical pat-down was a small price to pay for security. "I laugh when men tell me that," said Betty Spence, president of the National Association for Female Executives, who says she has been selected for pat-downs several times in the past month on trips from New York to Chicago, Washington and Miami on various airlines. "Men don't know how offensive it is to be touched by anyone when you don't want to be touched."

Amy Von Walter, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said: "The pat-downs were put in place to address TSA's abilities to detect explosives at the checkpoint. That was a key recommendation by the 9-11 commission." With such a new procedure, she said, the agency expected complaints. So far, it has received about 250, with the numbers trending downward in recent weeks, she said. None of the complaints has been resolved so far nor any penalties imposed. Von Walter said that complaints made to the security agency about pat-downs declined to 11 in the second week of November from 45 the week that the policy went into effect, for a total of 248. She said it was "fair to assume there would be an increase in complaints, given the new procedures."

Women feel helpless to stop body inspections

I now present the reasons, to which I alluded above, as to why there aren't more complaints:

Most of the women interviewed said they did not make formal complaints, most saying that they assumed it would be futile to do so. Maurer said she and some other women she had spoken to were wary of complaining in writing, both because of the presumed futility and from fear of being singled out when they travel in the future. "There is this thing about putting your name out there," she said. "Am I going to end up on some kind of list?"

The Knights Errant To The Rescue!

So far, the protests have been mostly rumblings, but Norman Siegel, a prominent New York civil rights lawyer, has been retained by Rhonda L. Gaynier, who said she recently decided to go public with her objections to routinely receiving "a breast exam in public" at airports. He has assembled a legal team to research grounds for a class-action lawsuit.

ACLU: Full-body frisks at airports are 'open invitation' for sexual harassment
Many women have complained that they were violated or groped during airport screenings.

"This is unquestionably an issue of infringement upon civil liberties," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program. Although the need to boost passenger security is understandable, Steinhardt said, the specific pat-down technique is extremely inappropriate. "This is an open invitation for harassment," he said. "We have even received sexual harassment complaints."

Blaiming The Victim

TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said although her agency receives complaints every week, the vast majority of travelers have no issue with the new procedures. "The new search is performed in an extremely respectful manner," she said. "Each screener will say where he or she is going to put their hand so people will not be caught off-guard." Passengers who feel violated by or uncomfortable with a screener are encouraged to file a report or talk to a supervisor on duty to rectify the problem, Davis said. "We want everyone to feel comfortable," she said. "Some people are going directly to their local newspapers to complain, but we want to know if they are touched inappropriately. We will send screeners back to training and make sure everything is in the passenger's best interest."

As a female traveler who has recently undergone four secondary screening procedures, Davis said she has never felt as though she had been groped. "When I am brought into a private screening area, I never tell them I work for TSA, just to see how they treat and handle passengers," she said. "I personally have never felt uncomfortable. Plus, I don't think the screeners specifically enjoy it."


Steinhardt, however, said these new precautions are not only inappropriate, but inefficient. "A lot of these measures are not particularly effective, but TSA does not want to be accused of not doing anything," he said. "TSA needs to finish implementing updated equipment to detect weapons and explosives and better training for screeners."

Davis said supervisors and airport officials will be manning checkpoint areas to keep the lines flowing smoothly and quickly. "Not including metal detectors and pre-computer screenings, 12 to 15 percent of passengers are pulled aside for random security checks," Davis said. "If there is a strange or unusual contour on someone's clothing that needs scrutinizing, we will pull them aside." To ensure passenger comfort, Davis said all passengers are allowed to request a private cubicle-like area. "We are just taking every extra precaution to secure safety and make people feel comfortable."

Steinhardt, however, said this type of screening merely gives people the illusion that TSA is taking new security measures. "This process is mostly just for show," he said.

Just like everything else Bu$hCo does. Image is everything, and the image of taking action is more than sufficient - and much less expensive in terms of time and money - than actually doing anything.

You expect less from Bu$hCo - and you get it!

Copyrighted source material contained in this article is presented under the provisions of Fair Use.


This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

pessimist :: 4:29 AM :: Comments (16) :: Digg It!