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TSA To Make Pat-Downs More Embarrassing To Encourage Scanner Use 642

Jeffrey Goldberg writes for the Atlantic about his recent experiences with opting out of the back-scatter full-body scanners now being used to screen airport travelers. Passengers can choose to submit to a pat-down instead of going through the scanners, but according to one of the TSA employees Goldberg talked to, the rules for those are soon changing to make things more uncomfortable for opt-outs, while not doing much for actual security. He writes, 'The pat-down, while more effective than previous pat-downs, will not stop dedicated and clever terrorists from smuggling on board small weapons or explosives. When I served as a military policeman in an Israeli army prison, many of the prisoners 'bangled' contraband up their a**es. I know this not because I checked, but because eventually they told me this when I asked. ... the effectiveness of pat-downs does not matter very much, because the obvious goal of the TSA is to make the pat-down embarrassing enough for the average passenger that the vast majority of people will choose high-tech humiliation over the low-tech ball check."
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TSA To Make Pat-Downs More Embarrassing To Encourage Scanner Use

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  • first pat (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:16AM (#34078668)

    first pat

  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:16AM (#34078670)

    Go ahead.

    You might want to have a think about who's really being humiliated in this situation though. I don't think it's me.

  • doesn't make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:19AM (#34078678)

    How exactly does this make us anymore secure? If a terrorist could exploit a loophole in the pat down procedure, then he wouldn't care whether it was anymore embarrassing.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:21AM (#34078684)

      You'd almost think it wasn't about terrorism.

      • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:59AM (#34078822) Homepage

        You need to be trained to accept government intrusion into your personal space, do whatever they tell you to.

        If you'll let them feel you up in public then letting them scan your email will seem like no big deal.

        • by Shark ( 78448 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:27AM (#34079570)

          The sad thing is that in 7 to 10 years, nobody will even care... People will just accept this as completely normal. What scares me is what will make people uncomfortable then? People will be indignant that TSA employees are allowed to shoot anyone who looks at them funny on the spot? Then it's another 7 to 10 years of easing the measure onto the sheep as part of their everyday life...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:22AM (#34079524)

        Here's a hypothesis:

        The data from these "backscatter" x-ray devices can be used to uniquely-identify people. (perhaps by body shape, or even one's stride/gate?) US intelligence authorities want to collect a variety of such biometric data, from as many people as possible.

    • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:29AM (#34078704)

      The fewer rights we have, the more secure we are! Eliminating privacy will surely protect us from those evil terrorists!

  • Pat down, or molest? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MoeDumb ( 1108389 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:20AM (#34078680)
    What will be the difference between a pat down and a molest? Inevitably it'll take a lawsuit to find out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      The pat down stops all those nasty terrorists, of course! It's also done by people you can definitely trust.

    • by Rod76 ( 705840 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:31AM (#34078710)
      All this is really going to do is make the already financially unstable airline industry even more likely to go into bankruptcy. The only time I fly now is if work forces it upon me. I'm tired of these TSA thugs, they are becoming more and more like prison guards these days and we the public are the new fish being introduced to their penal system. Where's the for the children tag when you need it. If the backscatter scanner doesn't violate them enough the TSA "child molester" pat down will definitely seal the deal. I wonder what future generations will say about our obsession with security in years to come? I don't think we'll come out smelling like roses.
      • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:34AM (#34078720)

        "I wonder what future generations will say about our obsession with security in years to come?"

        If people keep putting up with it, they'll probably be in the same situation we are.

      • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @09:35AM (#34078978) Homepage Journal
        Or the fact that they essentially steal with impunity. My coworker packed a macbook pro in his checked bag but when he got back he found a note from the TSA and no laptop. The TSA claims that they have security cameras on their employees at all times so they couldn't have stolen it. However when he looked closely at his bag he saw a small but certainly noticeable cut on the upper right part of his bag.

        We theorize that the TSA people look for bags with goodies, "inspect" them and if they find something worth stealing they make a small cut on the bag. Then they give the bag to someone else who then proceeds to take it to a place without cameras, grabs the goodies and then sends the bag through.

        The TSA repeatedly claimed that since they "screen" their employees and that their employees don't steal. Bullshit.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          Don't fly with a valuable laptop without theft recovery technology, period. This is what netbooks are for... or lojack

          • by modecx ( 130548 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:22PM (#34079934)

            Always check a firearm--and make sure the case for the firearm is capable of holding your valuables. Cameras, computers, whatever. It's perfectly legal, and usually easy enough. Use a throw-away pistol if you don't want to risk loosing fancy guns.

            And, unlike standard baggage, you have to use a lock and case THEY can't open... And if they want to see the contents, by their own regulations YOU have to be present! Make sure your cell # is plastered all over the case.

            If someone (TSA, airport, whoever) ever lost or stole a checked in case containing a gun... Well, let's just say there's no surer or quicker way to see their representatives collectively crap their pants.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by wwphx ( 225607 )
              Excellent suggestion! I would never check my laptop or camera in to baggage, but if I ever did, I'd head down to Western Auto and buy a $200 POS.

              If I understand correctly, a blank-firing starter pistol also qualifies for this restriction.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jimicus ( 737525 )

      Which will almost certainly culminate in a ruling which essentially says "Airports are different to other parts of the world and the TSA can essentially invent their own law there, and if their law says they can gently fondle your bollocks with one hand while jacking off with the other, so be it".

  • Maybe a solution? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:21AM (#34078686)

    Maybe a solution to this panic-stricken theater would be to start requiring all passengers coming off a US flight to go through the same mess as those arriving in the US. Especially those who are government employees. And make sure they are told "this policy will remain in place until the US once again starts behaving like a civilized country".

    Maybe with the addendum that "All travelers arriving from countries who have not signed the ICC treaty must be strip-searched and quarantined for 48 hours on arrival, before passport check is done." (this would include those arriving on diplomatic passports). Countries who do not accept international laws have no business sending people outside their own borders, period.

    • by forand ( 530402 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @09:48AM (#34079048) Homepage
      Apparently you didn't fly through Brazil shortly after the US started requiring those entering to give finger prints. Once the Brazilian boarder patrol people found out one was an American they would take them aside and get their finger prints. This consisted of using the old school stain your hand for a week ink for ALL fingers. They would then hold up the card, look at it intently and say something about the US requiring THEIR citizen to do this, then tear up the paper and throw it away. In the end though we still require finger prints to enter the US.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hedwards ( 940851 )
        That sounds more like Iran. I haven't been there myself, but from what I gather when you come in as an American they go out of their way to humiliate you the way we treat their citizens. After that there isn't much trouble and apparently the Iranians are just as nice as the ones you run into here, but they do even things in the airports.
  • ... between indecent assault, and being irradiated with dangerous levels of microwave and X-rays?

    Oh well, it's not like I can't drive anywhere I'd otherwise fly to.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:33AM (#34078718)

    I'd STILL be cheering after all these years...

    Look what we're doing to ourselves... We've done more damage to our country than the terrorists ever could have hoped to do directly...

    We proved it.. Terrorisim works! And works fuckin awesome too! Not directly.. But the whole country losing its fucking mind, wasting BILLIONS, is sure a huge victory for the terrorists.

    Way to go my fellow sheeple americans. Fuckin ijits.

  • Wrong target! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lewildbeast ( 715894 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:35AM (#34078722)
    Whilst making the pat down more embarrassing may encourage scanner use for the average bloke, average blokes don't blow up planes! So basically this seems like just another ploy to irritate the general public to foster a false sense of security.
    • Re:Wrong target! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Sunday October 31, 2010 @01:52PM (#34080618) Homepage Journal

      Average terrorists don't blow up planes either. There are too many more readily-available targets that don't require putting up with a lot of boring security theatre.

      Any Wal-Mart would do for a start. They're everywhere, they're essentially unguarded, and each one has a few thousand people and a whole bunch of combustables all in one handy place.

      Wait, I don't see ay Wal-Marts blowing up... maybe the true answer is that there aren't actually enough terrorists to be worth worrying about, hmmm??

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:42AM (#34078754) Homepage

    ...that you people continue to put up with this crap.

    • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:47AM (#34078772)
      Yes, "I heard it from some unverified source who might know" stories really are sloppy journalism. It is appalling that people put up with them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      ...that you people continue to put up with this crap.

      I agree, it is appalling.

      So what's the alternative? We've tried to vote the idiots out, but we got even worse idiots in their place. (The Douche vs. a Turd paradigm is entirely too close to reality.)

      Some of us have stopped flying when we can (work requirements make this somewhat difficult). I drove 3600 miles (5700 odd km) two years ago to visit family so I could avoid the security theater. I don't need that kind of violation in my life, thanks: I'd rather be inconvenienced and pay more, and I'm not going

  • by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) <slashdot@digitalsushi.com> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:50AM (#34078788) Journal

    But I expect a refund if the plane blows up. Is that fair?

  • by OKLetsTalk ( 1932158 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:54AM (#34078804)
    Then ask for a private area. This will require at least three TSA employees to occupy there time exclusively for you. I fly several times a month and always do this. I guess it is just my little method of rebellion. I did notice the pat down I received two days ago was much more invasive.
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @09:06AM (#34078858) Homepage

    Anyone else starting to see the TSA as a bigger problem than actual terrorists?

    Not sure about the solution but what we have is dysfunctional. We know we can't count on the airlines to run airport security. But TSA is starting to treat the flying public like some inconvenience while doing little to thwart actual terrorists.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      Anyone else starting to see the TSA as a bigger problem than actual terrorists?

      No, I see the TSA as the actual terrorists. They're the ones scaring people and grabbing their nuts.

    • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @10:08AM (#34079150)
      Starting? It's been that way for quite a while now. Ever notice how apart from 9/11 there hasn't been a single plane taken down due to terrorism in the US in the last decade? And the only other attempts have either failed on their own or by use of less sophisticated counter measures.

      You're always going to have terrorism as long as folks are willing to do that sort of thing, but when the likelihood of a plane going down due to terrorism is less likely than it going down due to either mechanical failure or pilot error, you have to wonder why we're putting up with the extra security measures.
    • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:16AM (#34079482) Homepage Journal

      Anyone else starting to see the TSA as a bigger problem than actual terrorists?

      The TSA is the terrorists' success. They've forced us to waste billions, reduce our freedoms and even give up our personal dignity.

  • by assertation ( 1255714 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @09:15AM (#34078896)

    Whether it is sanctioned sexual molestation ( pat downs ) or getting nuked with scanner radiation Americans didn't cause this problem and we do deserve to be treated this way. It is time to find another solution.

    A start might be to make the scanning more palatable by hiring higher caliber people for security and giving them training in how to act and be more mature about the process. Their behavior and comments started many of the objections with scanning.

  • by amw5g ( 917529 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @09:20AM (#34078918)
    No seriously. I haven't come across any details regarding the backscatter or the pat downs that discusses differential treatment for young travelers. Don't have kids, but I would imagine a parent's dilemma when traveling in the coming days will be: a) quasi-nude imagery of my children; or b) stranger danger.
  • by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <dredd@megacity.org> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @09:32AM (#34078966) Homepage

    Does your job require you to travel cross-country?

    If so, your employer, as part of your work function is forcing you to subject yourself to either [a] "being seen naked by a stranger", or [b] "being groped by a stranger".

    Either way, it seems like a perfect test-case for a sexual-harassment lawsuit. There are alternate forms of transportation that don't require being forced to make the decision above (if speed is important, you spend more money and charter a jet, if thrift is important, you spend more time and take a train). So if your employer requires that you fly commercial, it seems that you have an excellent cause of action under existing Sexual Harassment law.

    Bonus points if you actually work for the gov't so you can avoid suing someone who didn't have a lot of say in the rules in the first place.

  • Precedence for this (Score:4, Informative)

    by Foobar of Borg ( 690622 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @10:09AM (#34079160)
    There is precedence for this. In the early 20th Century, there were frequent terrorist bombings by anarchists. As such, it was standard procedure in France to have a similar pat-down before boarding a steamer ship. An account of this was written by the famous author Henri de Balsack.
  • Random facts (Score:4, Informative)

    by MyFirstNameIsPaul ( 1552283 ) * <myfirstnameispaul@gmail.com> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @10:09AM (#34079164) Homepage Journal

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    This article [cbslocal.com] is the one linked to from Drudge. I find it interesting that it reports most people at LaGuardia were willing to go through the TSA security because the 'alternative' is worse (plane blowed up). I queried my friends and acquaintances this past week and not one of them feels these security measures are necessary and many are changing travel plans around which airports have the scanners.

    "I don't know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747,"— Rafi Sela, leading Israeli airport security expert, referring to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, which has some of the toughest security in the world. source [cracked.com]

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @10:13AM (#34079184) Journal

    This won't get any better until you require everyone who flies to go through it. None of the private aircraft passengers are required to endure this, nor are any legislators. That means that everyone with power, and everyone who controls power, are exempt.

    Until that changes, expect airport "security" to get more annoying.

  • One more recourse (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @10:21AM (#34079228)

    If the TSA wants to make your pat down more humiliating, you have a chance to be even more of a pain in the ass: demand a private screening. It is well within your individual rights to do so. Furthermore, demand that a video camera document the screening so if something untoward happens, you have legal recourse. You have to remember that the TSA are just "security guards" with no more real authority than a civilian. The only TSA employees with real power are the Criminal Investigators (also known as an 1811 after the GS-1811 pay grade.) I have no problem giving an 1811 the respect they deserve, I have friends that are 1811's and they epitomise professional, honest civil servants. They go to rigorous training, have strong formally educated backgrounds in law, science, and procedure.

    If your rights are denied and you miss the plane as a result, you do have more than a fighting chance. The ACLU is known to rabidly hate the TSA and itches for a chance to whittle away at their undeserved power. However, when I say be a pain in the ass, I mean be polite but firm and stand your ground. You need to appear like you are the better, more responsible person in the interaction. Don't allow yourselves to be bullied by a screener and don't be afraid to call out a potential abuse. Most importantly, know your rights! You do not have to submit to a body scan. I work in an airport and if I got this x-ray scan every time I pass through security, I might get slow radiation poisoning over several a career.

  • by xanadu113 ( 657977 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:22PM (#34079940) Homepage
    I had a member of the T.S.A. (Steve at the Port of Seattle) posting death threats to me on my message boards on my website.. So anything this organization does, no longer surprises me.

    We actually traced the I.P. back to the Port of Seattle!
    Unfortunately, one of our moderators thought he was doing the right thing by deleting it when we should have preserved those messages as evidence.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling