TSA Faces Backlash Over Full-Body Scans, Aggressive Pat-Downs
11/19/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan
West Palm Beach, FL—It is no question that airport security measures have steadily increased since the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people. With the addition of full-body scanners and more aggressive pat-downs by security agents, the Transportation Safety Administration is now facing extensive criticism over its new safety procedures.
According to a Nov. 18, 2010 USA Today report, a string of lawsuits have been filed in response to the TSA’s heightened security measures. Frequent flyers, unions, passenger groups and civil libertarians have also begun advocating travelers and pilots to boycott full-body scans and undergo a thorough pat-down instead.
Nonetheless, many people oppose both the scanners and pat-downs, saying they violate travelers’ privacy rights. “There is absolutely no denying that the enhanced pat-down is a demeaning experience,” said American Airlines Captain David Bates.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks took down the Twin Towers, claiming thousands of lives and allegedly sickening more than 10,000 Ground Zero responders, security measures have steadily increased.
Other incidents have also prompted TSA officials to step up security throughout the nation’s 450 commercial passenger airports.
For instance, when al-Qaeda operative Richard Reid boarded a flight bound for Miami from Paris in 2001, he set foot on the jet with more than just his shoes. Reid, who carried an explosive on the plane by placing it in his shoes, luckily failed to set off the explosive successfully.
The botched terrorist plot spurred TSA officials to require all fliers to remove their shoes at security checkpoints.
An August 2006 incident in which someone conspired to detonate liquid explosives in London prompted TSA authorities to limit the amount of liquid passengers can carry onboard to 3 ounces.
“First it’s passengers’ shoes, then liquids, then laptops, then whole-body scans and now thorough pat-downs… Travelers are saying: ‘What’s next?’ What’s the vision, and when does it get better,” said Geoff Freeman, the U.S. Travel Association’s executive vice president.
Homeland security analyst and Center for National Policy president Stephen Flynn allegedly believes backlash related to the new TSA policies may be due in part to the fact that many people do not see an urgent need for them.
While specific incidents provoked the TSA to require that passengers remove their shoes while passing through security, and limited the amount of liquids they can carry on-board, the new pat-down techniques did not result from any apparent threat.
Additionally, the full-body scanners were only deployed several months after a Christmas Day bombing scheme failed last year. In that incident, a Nigerian man who hid an explosive in his underwear tried to bring down a jet while it flew over Detroit.
Nevertheless, Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole said the new security measures are essential, adding, “If you are asking me, am I going to change my policies? No.”
Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan– Legal News for Civil Rights Lawyers.
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