In the wake of public unrest over its extreme screening procedures, one might expect the federal Transportation Security Administration to ease off, especially with the busiest airline traffic days of the year less than a week off.
Instead, the TSA is doubling down on its Big Brotherly tactics. The agency has warned that any passenger who enters an airport security checkpoint and refuses to undergo the method of inspection designated by TSA personnel will not just be denied access to a flight. Instead, the person may be detained by law enforcement or TSA representatives for further questioning and could face a fine of up to $11,000 and even possibly jail time.
The website of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel quotes Sari Koshetz, regional TSA spokesperson for Miami, as saying “Once a person submits to the screening process, they can not just decide to leave that process.” The individual will be will detained and searched until local authorities are satisfied he poses no security threat, at which point he will be turned loose.
As tempers continue to flair, the American Civil Liberties Union has now joined the fight on the side of the American taxpayer, urging citizens to petition the Department of Homeland Security to alter its approach to screening and methodology. In a statement, the ACLU said:
All of us have a right to travel without such crude invasions of our privacy. Tell DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to put in place security measures that respect passengers’ privacy rights. You shouldn’t have to check your rights when you check your luggage.
The current war between the public and TSA started in March, when the TSA unveiled its new AIT—or full body scanners—which are now deployed in more than 60 airports. These scanners notoriously create a “nude” image of the passenger’s body, while simultaneously carrying a risk of exposure to harmful radiation.
TSA chief John Pistole testified before Congress this week that the use of these scanners if critical because they detect not just metal but other potentially dangerous materials, including plastic explosives. What the administrator failed to mention is that other scanners are currently in use in European airports that are less invasive and dangerous than those used by the TSA.
One example is the ProVision ATD scanner in used at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which uses radio waves rather than the ionizing radiation or X-rays used in backscatter devices. The ProVision scanners are not only safer to use but capable of detecting a larger class of non-metallic materials.
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