Here’s what happens when you say “no” to a full-body scan

By | November 11th, 2010

The Transportation Security Administration is fond of releasing surveillance video when it suits its purpose, like to debunk this woman’s claim that she was separated from her child at a checkpoint.

Then again, some passengers come to the airport looking for trouble. The TSA would like us to believe that Meg McLain was one such air traveler.

When she was randomly selected to go through the full-body scanner in Fort Lauderdale yesterday, she refused both the scan and the “enhanced” pat-down. She told a horrifying tale of being yelled at, cuffed to a chair and then escorted back to the terminal by no less than a dozen police officers.

The TSA, in response, released footage that suggests none of that happened.

Its public statement on the incident is dispassionate and, at the same time, disingenuous.

We diligently review claims of improper conduct. But when inaccurate passenger accounts are made either via media outlets or on the blogs, TSA works to resolve them and present both sides of the story. In this case, TSA has made the decision to post the CCTV video of the incident online.

You can listen to her radio interview, and then you can view our airport CCTV footage. We’ll let you decide what really happened.

We’ll let you decide? Oh, that’s cute.

Here’s what I think most people will decide: McLain was scared. She didn’t want to be scanned and she didn’t want an enhanced pat-down. When you’re being yelled at and detained by uniformed officers, your brain is bathed in adrenalin, and two police officers become twelve. You’re not just detained, you’re cuffed.

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I’m less worried about the details of McLain’s story — which certainly appear to be exaggerated — than what led to them.

This is the direct result of a bad policy. The government has no business giving anyone an enhanced pat-down or scanning their private parts. McLain was brave to resist.

It’s something we should all consider doing. It’s the only way the TSA will stop using these foolish strip-search machines.

  • Idisagree.

    Alot of you are saying big deal, just go thru the scanner and deal with it.. Or don’t fly…

    The scanner, is like 70 xrays of your chest..
    I’m going to disney world in a couple of months.. and im not going thru the scanner, im going to get a pat down, because i’d rather have some random person pat me down, then get cancer…

  • anglocooler48

    Right on all counts, Ryan. **No** terrorists have been caught by TSA. The Times Square bomber was spotted by street vendors, the shoe bomber was jumped by passengers, as was the underwear bomber. The full body scanners are easy to defeat once you know how they work. That’s why NO OTHER COUNTRY uses them. Catering/cleaning personnel routinely evade screening. Air freight is largely unscreened (something confirmed by the GAO). And yes, the security checkpoint itself is a target-rich environment for a suicide bomber. TSA is **not** keeping anyone safe. People who believe otherwise are being played for suckers. 

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