The public anger over the new TSA screenings has risen to such a level as to demand the President’s attention. While at a conference with NATO leaders President Obama was asked what he thought of the public reaction to the new TSA screenings which include full-body scanners and pat downs. In response, the President said he had sympathy with those who have complained, but also claimed he had no other alternative but to keep the current procedures.
While saying he “understand people’s frustrations” the President admitted that he does not have to go through the TSA screenings himself. On his way back to the United States the President may want to voluntarily submit himself to a pat down to give himself more credibility on the issue. Many have gone through the pat down screenings say they had no idea how intrusive it would feel until they personally went through it.
At some airports every passenger must go through a full-body scanner which essentially shows what someone looks like naked. People can opt out of these scanners but they then must be search with a pat down from a TSA agent. Some individuals who go through the scanners are still subjected to pat downs if the something suspicious is detected.
In his defense the President said that he had asked intelligence officials if there was a less intrusive way to ensure flight safety, “I’m constantly asking them whether is what we’re doing absolutely necessary, have we thought it through, are there other ways of accomplishing it that meet the same objectives.” The President states he was told that no alternative existed in light of the threat presented last Christmas from the “underwear bomber.”
However, many analysts say that the even the pat downs would not have discovered the package being carried in Abdul Mutallab’s underwear. A TSA agent would have to be incredibly perceptive to tell the difference between someone’s “junk” and a small package of explosives necessary to blow up a plane. It only takes one gram of some explosives to bring down a large airplane. That amount of explosives could be hidden within a terrorist’s body cavity. In these cases even the most thorough pat down would not discover the explosives. By now the pat down procedures have been well-documented. If prisoners can smuggle drugs in the body cavities then surely the terrorists will learn to smuggle explosives through the same method.
The only solution at that point would be to force individuals to go through full-body cavity searches to fly. Even the TSA knows that is line that the American public will not cross. Nearly all the experts agree that the most effective way to stop terrorists is to do so before they arrive at the airport, rather than trying to stop them through screening procedures 100 yards away from the plane. Indeed, nearly all the terrorists who have been caught were detected by counter-terrorism officials using financial records or other tips.