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Transportation Security United States

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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  • 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.
  • 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 amanicdroid ( 1822516 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:42AM (#34078752)
    "Oh yeah, that's good. Keep going, keep going, OH YES! You've done this before haven't you. *wink*"

    That should accompany every search.
  • by DarkKnightRadick ( 268025 ) <the_spoon.geo@yahoo.com> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:45AM (#34078762) Homepage Journal

    With the introduction of these scanners I just refuse to fly unless it's out of a small private jet. It may take longer to get somewhere in this country, and may limit where I can go in many cases, but it's better than giving up fundamental liberties.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:49AM (#34078784)

    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".

  • 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 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.

  • by ComputerGeek01 ( 1182793 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @09:42AM (#34079018)
    I wish I had mod points so that more people would consider this. With todays economy depending on where you are going the size of your group and how close to the travel date you want to leave it may be cheaper to rent a private plane over taking comercial aircraft. I'd think even in cases where it isn't literally cheaper the added freedom on time and elbow room along with the only way to assure that the plane didn't get over booked means that you are by far better off.
  • Re:Cough, please ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @09:52AM (#34079068) Homepage

    When the intent is to touch the genitals, then is the intent to search or commit a sexual assault. At what stage when committing sexual assault is a search warrant required.

    At least everyone is likely to have the last laugh on the TSA, how well are they shielded from the continually exposure to tumour inducing xrays. Of course there will always be people to protect idiots from their own ignorance http://epic.org/privacy/airtravel/backscatter/ [epic.org].

    With regards to limits on ionising radiation "the maximum exposure to ionising radiation shall not be more than 1 mSv34 per year for members of the public and 20 mSv per year for exposed workers", what steps are the TSA taking to ensure they are not exceeding mandated limits. One would assume questionnaires are being handed out with risk warnings and notifications for people at risk or do they just no think they will be held legally liable for failing to take due care, especially with children.

    How about all operational personal, flight crews, cleaners luggage handlers and TSA agents, are they also required to be scanned when entering areas of higher security risk.

  • Re:Maybe a solution? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @10:14AM (#34079194)

    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.

    That would be so awesome if true. It just sounds too good to be.

  • by DigitalKiwi ( 1205710 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @10:21AM (#34079224)

    Oh absolutely! It costs the US tens of billions of dollars every year in lost tourism/business revenues to maintain the security theater.

    It cost the USA my business.

    I fly from London -> New Zealand via LAX once or twice a year, I often used to stop over for up to a week in the US on the way and head up to vegas, or do some skiing. Now I always go via Hong Kong even tho its a longer flight just to avoid the 'bullshit'. I suspect many others avoid the US for the same reason.

    Lucky for the US it doesn't need those tourism jobs with its low low rates of unemployment eh?

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @10:58AM (#34079398)

    I'm lactose intolerant. I'll be sure to drink a glass of milk with my garlic eggs in the morning and make the experience a real unpleasant one for them. "Oops, sorry, when you hit the 'resistance' it caused me to jump and I let some gas out."

    Believe me, the TSA employees will revolt against upper management if enough people fart in their face all fucking day long. You want to play fucking games, we'll play them right back.

    And then you'll be charged with battery. [foxnews.com]

  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:05AM (#34079416)

    I pity their inspectors. Let's let them know how much sexual gratification we're getting from all of this. If this doesn't revile them, then we're we're making them an accessory.

    There is a ceiling to how much is enough. I think they've reached it.

  • 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.

  • What about children? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:35AM (#34079610)

    Are they really going to touch a 6 year old boy or girl?
    If you tape you son getting molested as evidence , is it child porn?

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:36AM (#34079624)

    LOL, Faux News was linked as proof that a story is real. National Enquirer gets more stories right than Faux News do.

    Believe it or not, it was the least sensationalist of the pages I could find covering the story. Most of them were titled like "Man Arrested for FART! ROFLMAO! *RASPBERRY*", even on slightly more respected news sites.
    BTW, it's hard to get arrest records wrong, since they're written down and easy for press to obtain. The rest of the story is that the prosecutor dropped the charges [msn.com] but it's something to think about; TSA guards might "think" you're trying to blanket the terminal with a gas-bomb and tazer you. "I smelled an odor similar to ricin, and concluded the suspect was breaching the canister."

  • by commandermonkey ( 1667879 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:38AM (#34079638)
    When I went through the atl. Airport in aug, the tsa guy tried his hardest to get me to go through the scanner after I opted out. He andhis buddy questiond my sexuality, told me it was incredibly invasive, questioned sexuality again.

    In the end the tsa guy was so uncomfortable he only went mid-way up the thigh. Make it more invasive for tsa? Yeah, that's a good idea.
  • by kevorkian ( 142533 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:42AM (#34079672)

    Please tell me why you think you need a passport to leave the USA ??

    A passport is simply a note from the US state department documenting that you are a USA citizen. Some countries may require you to have one to enter it ( the other country ) But you sure do not need one to LEAVE the usa ..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:05PM (#34079824)

    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.

    I fly quite a lot (international on average at least every second week) and I'm the opposite of a fear monger and quite strong on protecting my rights, but scanning people for weapons when entering a plane with me is not something I consider an intrusion of my and others' personal space. You'd be stupid not to see that this still is a factual threat (as recent days have shown).

    I do get that the pat downs and other of the checks aren't foolproof, or might even be argued are ineffective. And I'm irritated by much of the stupidity and hassle around this on an almost weekly basis. But these body scanners are effective. And I wish people would get over nevrotic hangups about the body you're born with, and have these scanners as obligatory. If people could get over the 'OMG! they can see a cartoon version of you actually having the same bodyparts as everybody else!' they could ease up on the stupid stuff.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:30PM (#34079984) Homepage Journal

    I would be okay with it under the following conditions:

    • The scanners must be designed to search for chemicals that don't belong in the human body, not for nonstandard shapes.
    • The scanners must penetrate the body fully so that they are actually effective against a terrorist with more than three brain cells.
    • The scanners must be designed in such a way that it is physically impossible to get anything APPROACHING a nude picture of the person, and physically impossible to see anything that would constitute private medical information as well.

    Until then, you're massively invading my privacy without doing a damn thing to stop terrorism---something that should not be acceptable to anyone sensible. I guarantee you that this bullshit will stop the first time somebody releases a "Girls Gone Wild TSA Style" video showing a bunch of goons sitting around watching nude X-ray pics of hot women who walked through the scanners. And statistically speaking, it's only a matter of time before this happens and it turns into a public outcry the likes of which the government has not seen since Vietnam.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:41PM (#34080066) Homepage

    I can make it across the US in 24-36 hours if there's no really bad weather.

    No, you can't. Best case, you're looking at around 48 hours, assuming you don't sleep: two days of straight travel.

    Realistically, you're looking at 3 or maybe even 4 days of travel: sleeping, resting, stretching your legs and eating all take time (losing you about 8-10 hours a day). This number is a little higher if you've got children to contend with (more food and exercise requirements).

    If you've got a week+ to burn and don't mind driving, go ahead. A couple years ago I drove from the Black Hills to upstate NY (and then back again a month later). I was unemployed, so the trip was tenable due to not having any time obligations, and it was slightly cheaper than 4 plane tickets (even after a small collision with a deer). However, it took almost 3 days (1800 miles), and that was traveling at around 85mph for most of the trip.

    However, for any distance under (say) 600 miles or so, I'd agree: drive. It actually is quicker, and is substantially cheaper without the hassle. An hour to the airport, 1-3 hours waiting, an hour or so in transit, and another hour to get your bags, rental, etc. and then another 30 minutes to 2 hours to your actual destination. Anywhere on the seaboards, I'd say "just drive".

    Anything up to 12 hours of driving is, IMO, acceptable at this point - even for a single person. I'd love to get a small turbo diesel van to make these trips pleasant and (even less) inexpensive for me and my family.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @03:14PM (#34081488)

    .. and this post and its score is a great example why debate is superfluous and we should just get down to killing as many as possible of those we hate instead.

  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @03:42PM (#34081786) Journal

    Many of the people working for TSA are not rocket scientists, granted, and many are genuinely below average IQ (and many above) but their main objective is to protect their job and paycheck, NOT to insure safety. That would be true of most any normal person who hasn't been through the reconditioning training that the military offers (and police/firemen/paramilitary to a lesser degree).

    My experience has been that most TSA agents are fairly normal, friendly people. The minority that act like jackbooted thugs are the typical "failed the police entrance exam" types that were beat up as kids and want to take it out on the rest of the world now by "protecting" them.

    The real problem (for me) isn't the jackbooted types, it is the sheer incompetence of the average TSA agent, which is so bad that you have to blame the system, not the individual. And of course, blame the politicians who are a bunch of cowtowing pussies for implementing such a kneejerk system to begin with. I still say give everyone a gun or a knife when they enter the plane, and there is no chance of a terrorist taking it down.

  • by FiloEleven ( 602040 ) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @04:32PM (#34082246)

    I could almost agree with that IF and ONLY IF they got rid of the no-fly list. If body scans are mandatory, then there's no flight risk from the people on that list who should actually be on it, much less those whose names ended up there accidentally or for political reasons.

  • Re:Recent events (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <.moc.xobreven. . ... .vidavsxd54sals.> on Monday November 01, 2010 @11:38AM (#34089898) Homepage

    Why would that surprise you? Shipped cargo isn't inspected at all. (Well, except once it lands at customs)

    This is because, it's totally impossible for a bomb to be in shipped cargo and...wait, no...

    This is because inspecting cargo before shipping would not be visible to the American people, nor would it involve herding them around like cattle so they accept whatever you choose to do to them without warrants, like sexually molest them.

    And hence there's no spending money on that part of security theater.

    In fact, such a thing might inconvenience an Almighty Corporation, so that's doubly bad.

    Sometimes I think the best way for a terrorist to act would be to incorporate and just kill people that way. Or just blow up the economy. Or destroy all real estate records so no one knows who owns what.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!