Is the TSA using scripts to push us through its full body scanners?

Roberta Ling is a 73-year-old woman from Austin, Texas. Statistically, she’s likelier to be the next Miss America than a terrorist. But that doesn’t stop the TSA from harassing her whenever she flies.

Ling expects it. She has an artificial breast prosthesis, and is forced to make a difficult choice between a full-body scan and an uncomfortable pat-down when she’s screened. (Disclosure: I am opposed to the TSA’s current screening methods, and believe the choice between a scan and pat-down violates our Fourth Amendment rights.)

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight. Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

What Ling doesn’t expect is the hard sell on the scanner, which has sounded strangely similar lately.

First, they demand to know why I won’t go through the machine. Then they require me to listen to a lecture about the “safety” of said machine.

Then they tell me again that I should just go through the machine. It seems as though they are all reading from a prepared script.

Did she just say “script”?

I was intrigued by that. I wondered if the TSA is training its staff to effectively force us through the constitutionally-troublesome, poorly-tested full-body scanners.

The only way to find out is to try to refuse the scan myself and see if I get a scripted rebuttal. But the TSA has a well-known exception for families with young kids flying together. In order to avoid separating the group, they are all sent through the magnetometer instead of being scanned.

So the last few times I’ve flown, I wasn’t given the opportunity to refuse a scan. Lucky me.

I decided to ask the TSA. But my media contact, who normally answers my messages promptly, even if to say he can’t answer, responded with silence. That was more than a month ago.

Ling is convinced the TSA is using their words as batons to prod us into the scanners.

“My recent experience has been that the security agents are becoming bully boys,” she says.

I think it’s possible that the TSA is beginning to train its agents to verbally pressure reluctant passengers like Ling to be screened by these problematic full-body scanners. But short of actually seeing a training manual or sitting in on a training session, I don’t think we’ll ever know for certain.

Is the TSA using scripts to push us through its full body scanners?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

105 thoughts on “Is the TSA using scripts to push us through its full body scanners?

  1. Of course it’s a script, or talking points. Flight attendants use them, airline personnel at airports use them to ask if you packed your own luggage or whether your bags ever left your sight, people at call centers use them, etc., etc. Is the fact that TSA screeners use them inherently evil? Doubt it.

    1. It’s one thing to ask if you packed your own luggage. It’s another to try to browbeat someone in to doing something they clearly don’t want to do, nor are they required to do.

    2. What do we expect, that they ad lib every single time somebody steps up to the scanner? Even if it’s not a script, after saying essentially the same thing 4,000 times, the screener is probably going to SOUND like it’s a script even if it’s not. That’s just human nature.

      And yes, all the TSA screeners will probably say the exact same thing. That’s because they pick up on what they other screeners say and kind of parrot that. Again, human nature.

      1. If you hear it at multiple airports, it’s probably not just a game of telephone. Someone’s going to have to test it to figure it out.

      2. I think the real issue here is that instead of saying “Certainly Sir (or Ma’am)” they proceed to give you a spiel and hector you over your decision. That’s not their job.

  2. I fly a lot and think all this to do about scanners and the TSA is just a waste of time. It’s so easy people – take off your shoes, pack to adhere to the rules, put everything in the tray, walk through the scanner, pick up your stuff and be on your way. It takes all of 5 minutes and doesn’t hurt you in any way. So what if you have an artificial breast, or artificial anything. The person watching the scanner is in another room and could care less. You’ll never see him or her. Get over yourself. Just keep your mouth shut and obey the rules. It couldn’t be any more simple.

    1. It hurts me in many ways. I’ll just give you two to start. It violates my constitution rights against unreasonable search and seizure. It exposes me to radiation, which I’m trying to cut down on.

      The keep your mouth shut and obey the rules argument is really tired. The rules are wrong. Obedience is, in that case, un-American.

      1. Your constitutional rights are violated every day. In this case, I think it’s a “sacrifice” of a few to help insure the safety of many. Get over it.

          1. Thank you for the advice, which I will heed. It’s just so infuriating though that people get so upset about the TSA when there are so many other, really important, issues in our lives. Whether to walk through a scanner or not is simply not an issue I think one needs to spend a manosecond pondering.

          2. Well, you don’t walk through a scanner. You assume a position similar to how a person is told to stand by police when they are being arrested. The scanners can’t pick up specifics, only “anomalies” and if an anomaly shows up on your person then you are forced to undergo a pat-down. So that’s the problem. That and both forms of search are unreasonable, and that does violate the 4th Amendment. And more and more of the few who are sacrificed for the many, as you put it below, are the old, the people with medical problems, that automatically put them in line for this horrible treatment just because they want to fly somewhere. It doesn’t matter how many items the TSA confiscates, they are really only there to look for explosives.

          3. For those such as the commenter above… This site isn’t the US Government. As such the constitution does not apply, just like it does not apply inside your own house. You have full right to kick out a visitor if they are saying or doing anything you don’t like, or even if you’re just a plain bigot. Private places (and that includes non-governmental internet sites, not just websites) do not fall under the constitution of the USA.

          4. Why are we discussing whether this site is the US government? Is Chris supposed to kick out people who disagrees with him. I think Chris is doing it exactly right. Encourage discussion (which doesn’t go far without dissenters) but prohibit personal attacks and ad hominems.

          5. The personal attacks issue is what came up. As I said, there are a whole lot of people who seem to believe that “constitutional rights” apply everywhere. And even on a forum such as this, if constitutional rights did apply, personal attacks are not covered anyway. Never did I claim Chris should kick out anyone, disagree with him or not. However, constitutional rights were mentioned. In airports, since it is a government agency running the security checkpoints, the constitution should be fully in force, not just something they nod at and ignore. My point was though that not every place is covered.

        1. “Your constitutional rights are violated every day.” So, we should just bend over and accept it?

          Further, please explain ” ‘sacrifice’ of a few” – who are the few? Everyone is forced through the unconstitutional screening process, without any insuring the safety of anyone.

          1. Waging war against the TSA for being “unconstitutional” is one that I don’t believe can be won so yes, bend over and accept it is the stance I have taken. The “sacrifice of a few” referred to the few who wage this ongoing war against the TSA. Those “few”, or maybe many (I don’t really care), sacrifice precious time and energy wailing about scanners and such when, for me, it’s no big deal at all. As for safety, ever watch the TV show about the Miami airport? Ever see the items the TSA manages to confiscate? Yes, the TSA can be an annoying aspect of our flying life, but I believe the process does go a long way to help with the safety of those of us who must fly.

          2. You have been successfully indoctrinated by our government into giving up your rights. This is very sad indeed.

          3. Yes, it’s mind-boggling that someone would believe both the government on this issue as well as a television show.

          4. I feel that the people who have accepted the tactics of the TSA into their life with no concerns or complaints are the true Chicken Littles. The TSA exists in its current form because of the government claiming there are terrorists hiding behind every shrub just waiting to blow up every airplane. I’m not saying we don’t need security at airports, we just don’t need what the TSA calls security.

          5. Glad you’re not a troll. The comment on your approach is that it is a personal choice and philosophy.

            1) It is 10-15 seconds of wasted time and giving up the 4th amendment in order to travel by air, for able-bodied people who haven’t been randomly assigned a further screening or who experience one of the 21 million false positives (no anomalies), or the unknown other millions who “alarm” the scanners due to something which has, 100% for 3 years plus, proven to not be a non-metallic weapon, bomb, or incendiary device – the sole purpose the GeTSApo uses for rolling them out illegally (as determined in the EPIC court case). Assuming nothing happens to you – no false breast to be examined, no medical device, no prosthese, can stand and “surrender” in the scanner, etc. – it has been since June 30th less of an issue. Prior to June 30th they examined pictures of genitals and nude bodies….which if it didn’t bother you doesn’t make it right for those people who normally don’t expose naked bodies to strangers.

            2) Assuming current situation, it comes down to whether one believes the 4th amendment right to avoid inch-by-inch searches of one’s person without reasonable suspicion is still something of interest to you on a personal level. In New York City, the “stop and frisk” illegal policy has been a major issue….yet only 700,000 people a year are “stopped and frisked” for public safety reasons vs the airports where over 375 million people are electronically “stopped and frisked” with no reasonable suspicion for public safety reasons.

            10% of people illegally searched in NYC had warrants or drugs or a small % had weapons. With scanners, they can’t identify what they found so they ALWAYS require a secondary search. So, scanners do not detect weapons, bombs, and incendiary devices. They just detect “something”. Metal detectors don’t do an inch by inch search of your body and they discover metal with high accuracy. Scanners are 0% after they run their illegal search.

            Of people who have been further searched (21 million false positives a year + people who had some item the scanner couldn’t identify)…there have been ZERO non-metallic bombs found. In Newark, a test agent went through a scanner and 2 pat downs with a simulated non-metallic bomb. In short, we are all hassled over a very small risk. In fact, NO PASSENGER HAS CAUSED 1 FATALITY WITH A WORKING NON-METALLIC BOMB COVERING EVERY US DOMESTIC FLIGHT FOR OVER 51YEARS.

            3) Miami airport GeTSApo show? No, never watched it. I do see weekly blog reports by the TSA and twitter occasionally on what they found. There has NVER BEEN A WORKING NON-METALLIC BOMB EVER FOUND. One might say that the scanners prevent this – except there was never a working non-metallic bomb for the 48 years prior to scanners. The effective proven increase in security is ….zero %.

            I would only say I understand why you have given up. I personally opt out every time to get a criminal assault of my body and make the GeTSApo do work. It is unfortunate the GeTSApo is allowed to do illegal searches vs proven, effective, good enough metal detector and wanding methods with no criminal touching of genitals and female breasts. We now see sproting events and teams influenced by the TSA, and the rollout to randomly do searches police can’t do in train stations, bus stations, and roads (10,000 VIPR stops a year). I continue to fight against them to support our Constitution.

            FINAL THOUGHT: Why not pass a law which says no one can publicly write any negative statement against the government? The public safety reason is to prevent accumulation of negative comments which may influence mentally ill people and cause them to do something violent.

            The best part is it takes ZERO time or energy to not write, so not inconvenient at all. You can still write other things (in analogy, go drive a car or take a bus and don’t fly).

          6. Jeff, you’re correct. It does not bother me one bit to go through scanners, or have a pat down, or anything else the TSA needs to do. I have nothing to hide, am not guilty of anything, and am willing to co-operate if it means that the next person who tries to smuggle a handgun or knife onto a plane is stopped. I have lived and worked in 68 countries around the world and have experienced really intrusive govts. Try going through airport security in Cairo, or Paris, or Moscow or Istanbul. Yikes. I chose to let the TSA be a non issue. Now I will respectfully leave this enlightened discussion as I see I’m swimming against the stream here. I would encourage some of you to travel outside the good ol USA to get a handle on the world and put our TSA into some sort of perspective.

          7. Travel Girl, just because the rest of the world violates you, doesn’t mean you expect the same here. We’re the land of the free. Freedoms many have fought for, died for, and we cannot let them go for the sake of convenience.

            I do truly hope that you’ll remember that the next time you see someone arguing with the TSA. What weapons they catch doesn’t really matter. Their methods are unconstitutional and invasive.

          8. For flights heading to the US, yes security can be onerous. And whose fault is that? Our government, of course.

            However, for the most part, air travel abroad is far, far more reasonable than what we experience in the U.S.

            You need to read some Sokolove. For instance:

            “So my response to the “If you have nothing to hide … ” argument is
            simply, “I don’t need to justify my position. You need to justify yours.
            Come back with a warrant.”


            From the same article:

            “The Canadian privacy expert David Flaherty expresses a similar idea when he argues: “There is no sentient human being in the Western world who has little or no regard for his or her personal privacy; those who would
            attempt such claims cannot withstand even a few minutes’ questioning
            about intimate aspects of their lives without capitulating to the
            intrusiveness of certain subject matters.”

          9. On flights headed to the US, yes, security is onerous. Why? Because our government has demanded that it be so. It is also onerous in a few individual countries. But on the whole, air travel overseas is far easier than here.

            As for your comment “I have nothing to hide,…”, perhaps you should read some Sokolove to educate yourself. A couple of examples from a recent prophetic article by Prof. Sokolove:

            “As the computer-security specialist Schneier aptly notes, the
            nothing-to-hide argument stems from a faulty “premise that privacy is
            about hiding a wrong.” Surveillance, for example, can inhibit such
            lawful activities as free speech, free association, and other First
            Amendment rights essential for democracy.”


            “The Canadian privacy expert David Flaherty expresses a similar idea when he argues: “There is no sentient human being in the Western world who has little or no regard for his or her personal privacy; those who would
            attempt such claims cannot withstand even a few minutes’ questioning
            about intimate aspects of their lives without capitulating to the
            intrusiveness of certain subject matters.”

          10. If the machines are safe, why does the TSA not let its screeners wear dosimeters to make certain that they are not getting excessive doses of radiation? People who work in hospitals near x-ray machines wear them.

          11. I worked in Italy about 10 years ago for about 3 weeks setting up a new facility for my former employer.

            When I was leaving, there was an college age American, clearly on his “Backpacking Through Europe” trip who tossed his backpack down on the X-ray belt and it went through. The Police Officer seated behind the X-Ray called to his partner (In Italian) seated on a wooden stool next to the X-Ray. The partner stood from his stool and asked the young man if he had a “Granata, Bomba, or coltello, ah…excuse me, Grenade, Bomb or Knife In the bag?”

            The young man said “No I do not” and the officer said “Passport please” Looked it over for about 30 seconds and said “good, have a safe flight” No search….no detainment, nothing.

            Compare that to here in the US where I was going through security at an airport and all of a sudden these partitions close around me and the 2 people in line in front of me. They tore apart the first guy’s carry on and dumped his shaving kit out because the angle of the razor handle against the small can of shaving cream looked like a grenade to the X-Ray. No questions, no apologies, just “9/11 gives us the right”

            I honestly think we have gone WAY too far down the road of Security VS our Fundamental rights. I have a medical device implanted and cannot pass through a Metal Detector, so I either get the scanner or get a pat-down, and about 40% of the time, the scanner “sees” my implant (which is attached to the bottom of my ribs, under the skin, with nothing protruding through the skin) and I end up getting a pat down anyway. Just how powerful are these scanners that they can see through my shirt and through my flesh enough to detect the implant?

          12. You wrote: “Waging war against the TSA for being “unconstitutional” is one that I don’t believe can be won so yes, bend over and accept it is the stance I have taken.”

            That’s what the Jews said when the Nazi’s herded them into the trains. They can’t fight it, so they bent over and accepted it.

            How tragic that you, and so many other sheeple in America, can’t see the parallels.

          13. You have employed a logical fallacy called “Reductio ad Hitlerum.” Now unless you think airport screening is the moral equivalent of genocide, let’s take a step back and engage the facts.

          14. Yeah yeah yeah. Any time any of us draw the inevitable comparisons of the TSA to Nazi’s we get accused of Reductio ad Hilterum, or they whine about Godwin’s law.

            No, I am certainly not comparing what the TSA does to genocide. But you cannot escape the perfectly logical comparison of governments implementing increasingly onerous and unreasonable rules, chipping away at our personal freedoms, and indoctrinating its populace into accepting ever more offensive intrusions on our bodies, our belongings, and our dignity.

            Does the fact that our government is employing sexual assault on its innocent citizens, as opposed to genocide, mean that we can’t compare the two? I would agree that the two horrors are not morally equivalent. But they are both horrific.

            When I have to allow a stranger to shove her thumb up into my vagina through my thin yoga pants (yes, this happened) in order to exercise my right to fly in my own country (yes, it’s a constitutionally protected right), it is perfectly reasonable for me to compare what I am having to go through, to what the Jews in Germany did. That too started out with small indignities and intrusions on their freedom. And we all know where it ended.

            I never once said that I expect it to eventually get to the point of our government rounding up all us travelers and gassing us. But personally, I find being sexually assaulted by uneducated, ill-trained, power-hungry government goons under color of authority to be pretty damn offensive.

            I am continually dismayed to see how many people consider that to be perfectly acceptable. Sickening, really.

          15. The comparison isn’t apt, which means you are absolutely guilty of that infamous logical fallacy. And what you said isn’t even true. They thought they were being relocated. Had they known they were going to be murdered, I doubt very much that they would have just gotten on the trains without a fight. And “the Jews”? There were 6 million of them, are you saying they all behaved the same way? Do you even know anything about WWII?

        2. The constitution is worded to protect “the few” from getting stomped on by the many. It protects the minority and the small against the abuses against big government. It sees everyone -yes everyone – as having the same rights no matter your beliefs or status. To sacrifice the few for the many is unconstitutional.

        3. Flying is a choice, not a right and I believe that is how the government sees it. The joy of living in this country is that we have freedom of speech and we shouldn’t berate others for expressing their opinions if they don’t agree with ours.

          1. Interesting that you tell us that we shouldn’t “berate” our so-called Guest for expressing her pro-TSA opinion. Isn’t that all we’re doing? Responding to her opinion, politely and factually, providing details that she doesn’t seem to know, and perspectives she doesn’t seem to have considered? Is it only “berating” if you disagree with us? In your mind, does “freedom of speech” only go one direction…the one you agree with?

            Speaking of facts, you are, in fact, wrong. In the USA, flying is not just a choice. It’s actually a protected right. Do your homework. From case law:

            (a) Sovereignty and Public Right of Transit. – (1) The United
            States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the
            United States.
            (2) A citizen of the United States has a public right of transit
            through the navigable airspace. To further that right, the
            Secretary of Transportation shall consult with the Architectural
            and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board established under
            section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 792)
            before prescribing a regulation or issuing an order or procedure
            that will have a significant impact on the accessibility of
            commercial airports or commercial air transportation for
            handicapped individuals.

            It’s amazing how helpful it can be to educate oneself about a topic before posting something in a discussion forum.

          2. First of all, I did not point to any one person saying they had berated the poster – but there are some posts that even Christopher Elliott had to warn about.

            I am also not “pro”- TSA. I think security screenings are all smoke and mirrors – we’ve seen huge security breaches and countless items getting through TSA and I have witnessed TSA overly harassing people – because they think they can get away with it.

            I also did not say that the “law” is flying is a choice, what I SAID was the GOVERNMENT (and the TSA especially) SEES it that way, regardless of what the law is- thus their invasive screening methods.

          3. There are 2 ways it has been found to be a right. In one, a famous 1950s court case by a citizen whose passport was denied because he wanted to fly to Russia won a case. The majority Supreme Court decision free travel is part of the the word “liberty” covered by the 5th amendment – “…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;…”

            The other piece is the Federal Code of Regulations (FCR) asserts the right of citizens to fly in navigable air space as shown by LeeAnne Clark in her post.

    2. Obviously, you aren’t much of a “travel girl” since you don’t know that there no longer is a person watching the scanner in another room.

      1. No, I didn’t know there was no longer a person watching the scanner. Thanks for that info. I flew to Paris and back last week but still wasn’t aware of this change. Can’t keep up with everything.

    3. So you are basically saying “I have no problem with this so you have no right to think differently. Your “get over it” comment further down the thread enforces that this is your attitude.

      You don’t get to tell me what I should or should not push against. I believe that the constitution is priceless and paid for in blood. I think it is fine to push back against those that violate it.

    4. The one thing that seems to get missed here is that if they see anything not usually found on a completely healthy person, they will initiate the full pat-down anyway. For someone with any kind of medical prostheses, why bother with the scanner when they are going to pat you down anyway?

    5. Why the name change, travelgirl? You had your whole thread posted under travelgirl, and now you’ve changed your name to guest. What gives?

      Once a post is made, it seems a bit deceitful to go back and change the name under which it was posted.

    6. This is very true. I worked for the Census Bureau years ago, interviewing people. Those who answered my questions without a fuss, I forgot instantly. Those who wouldn’t answer anything, objected to everything, etc, I remembered, some to this day!

      The person watching the scanner sees hundreds of people and doesn’t remember any of them and doesn’t care!

    7. Who are you to tell me what I should get over?

      TSA Whole Body Strip Search Machines are Un-American.

      I suggest you take your own advice regarding use of your mouth!

  3. I’ve refused twice. Aside from being asked why, no script. One time I was pregnant, so I guess that was a no-brainer reason even for the TSA.

      1. I should add that I usually try to get on the security line that does not have the full-body scanner. The time I was pregnant I accidentally got on the shorter line and it was too late before I realized that it was short because it was a full body scan. The other time, in the Reagan DC airport, there was NO choice, all lines led to a full body scan. I also have to admit, while I do not agree with TSA propaganda or most of the security measures that have destroyed my joy of air travel, both times I got the pat down I was treated respectfully by the women doing it. In fact, the time I was pregnant the TSA agent avoided going all the way up my thighs as is standard procedure. Of course, at the beginning when she asked me if I had any sensitive areas, I told her I was 5 months pregnant, everything is sensitive and that I also had to pee. Self preservation at its finest!

    1. Putting the words “no-brainer” and “TSA” in the same sentence is just so many layers of irony that it could very well cause a tear in the space-time continuum!

  4. 1) There is no script. Some agents occasionally throw out talking points – I have heard the “equivalent to 2 minutes of flying” to describe the radiation output of nude body scanners. I have heard them say “it is tested and safe”. Now, I just say “opt out” with no further conversation and most yell for their slacker coworker to criminally touch me.

    I would say they likely talk about responses to give passengers who refuse to be illegally treated.

    2) I don’t understand WHY this lady is avoiding the scanners. It would be helpful to know why she wants to avoid the scanner – constitutional reason for violating the 4th amendment, medical privacy – doesn’t want to risk exposure of private medical condition, or what?

    If not based on the constitutional argument, then she really is better off with a scanner as that may keep the GeTSApo’s hands off her body (it won’t save her liberty or keep her from “surrendering”).. Opting out will result in the criminal pat down 100% of the time.

    1. In most cases when someone has a prostheses of any kind, after going through the scanner, they give them the full body pat down anyway. My dad has a prostheses and now opts out because he knows he will get the full service pat down no matter what.

      1. Yes, very familiar with prostheses problem. In this case, I only suggested a breast prostheses “may” get past a scanner without the sick, disgusting invasion such as happened a few weeks ago where a TSA employee touched/reached into the shirt of a lady.

    2. Considering the lady has a breast prosthesis, my guess is she previously had breast cancer, which also lets me infer that she would like to have less radiation rather than more.

      1. Correct. Mastectomy patients are high risk of being profiled. But no one cares…….you won’t hear AARP (more breast cancer patients are elderly) or AMA say anything………

        1. That’s because both those groups, and many, many more non-profits, either get government funding or have a close working relationship with the government.

        2. I have cancelled my membership with AARP for exactly that reason…their silence on the abuse that elderly and disabled people are receiving from TSA.

  5. I often travel with my family, and it seems that either my husband or I get directed to the full-body scanner. The kids have watched me get patted down several times.

    1. When you approach the checkpoint, act as if your family is in two completely separate groups. One kid goes with you, and the other or the rest go with your husband. Kids plus one parent go to metal detectors. So it’s important to distribute the children so as to avoid being sent to the radiation machines.

      1. My family did that very thing twice this summer. One time it worked, the other it didn’t. But we will still do it every time we fly.

    2. You could try each taking a kid, and put a few people between you in the line to see if you can ensure 100% metal detector for all. Often, one parent is made to go through the unconstitutional scanners if both parents are with the kids. Single mom’s never have an issue….so separation is a good tactic to try.

        1. I see an opportunity for a great business – rent a kid. You get to rent a kid to go with you through airport security as your child so you can use the metal detector. The kid just exits back to outside security for the next renter to use. 😉

  6. Why do I opt-out – because I am trying to stop, or at least slow, the erosion of our rights at the airport. We’ve seen the introduction of ‘magic baggies,’ taking shoes off, and now the scanner – what’s next. I find the scanners inefficient and ineffective – I’ve had a bare arm patted down on two occasions and scanners take more time to run, plus their crazy cost. Old fashion metal detectors work just fine and most airports in Europe seem happy with them (in Zurich it was ‘take laptops and toiletries out of your bag’ and you could keep shoes and jackets on while going through the metal detector).

    In my recent travels (5 in the last two months) I haven’t encountered a script, but I have gotten threatened with how long it will take for someone to do a patdown. Of course there’s my recent experience in SLC, opted out, got sent through the WTMD, no beep and no pat-down (yes, I waited for a minute or two expecting it), with no terminal dump or panic from TSA. Obviously the scanners aren’t that great.

    1. That is amazing story on WTMD for opt-out and no criminal patdown! That confirms uselessness for those who don’t recognize it yet.

  7. Pretty crazy Christopher. I used to travel extensively and followed your blog and participated a lot more here. When I changed jobs in 2010 I didn’t have to travel for business until two weeks ago, DEN to MSP and back. I felt like a novice again. I used the bridge to Concourse A screening at TSA since it’s faster. The recording over the P.A. was they were under heightened security. There was only one full-body scanner and no magnetometers in sight. I just assumed we lost the war on this one and went through the scanner like the rest of the sheeple. Wish I would have paid more attention and glad to see you are still working for the cause.

    1. Saturday morning at DEN I went through the A bridge security. All of the lanes were open. Being 05:45 in the morning, the lanes were empty. But they sent us through the metal detectors instead of the scanners. The metal detectors are well hidden and are not used very often. It would be nice if they would have the lanes fully staffed at 5 pm on Friday afternoon when all of the business travelers are trying to get home.

      And unfortunately these days the A bridge is not always faster. They have deployed the dogs at peak times to sniff everyone going through which slows things tremendously. Coming back Monday morning, the dogs were at work. A lady carrying a cat in a carry on bag caused one of the beagles to go crazy! Probably not fun for the cat.

      More and more going through airports is looking like the old movies you can watch about WWII concentration camps with the armed guards with dogs herding the people.

  8. I don’t think it is a script, but perhaps they want us to be good little sheep and just follow their instructions. I have only had one try and talk me out of opting out and I politely said no thanks. For one thing, I have a pinched nerve in my neck and putting my arms up can trigger severe pain. The other reason is pure principle. These machines were originally to be used as extra security for those in question and not the general public.

    1. I am vociferous opponent. But, you have a good point. If these were SECONDARY SCREENING, they could be potentially justified. But, they don’t identify anything so by their nature they add no new information if they alarm again.

      Now,. for people with metal in their body, like knee/hip joints, the scanners are often preferred over metal detectors in order to avoid the criminal patdowns (assuming no false positives, etc.). However, Sen. Claire MaCaskill – who called the pat downs :”love pats” at one point – tweeted a month ago or so that she had a very “invasive” pat down which you could tell clearly made her think about them. And she is one who preferred scanners because she has metal in her body. Not that she will do anything about the TSA.

  9. Sign up for Pre-Check. You then avoid all of these unpleasantries and pass through a magnetometer with your shoes on and you shampoo and toothpaste safely inside your bag.

    1. Pay $85 to get a free constitutional right? And they still will do some random scanner and patdown checks. No thanks. What’s next – a poll tax to vote?

      And, finally, I like to be in solidarity with those who can’t avoid the scanners. Just because I think I might avoid some unpleasantness of the country of Homeland, I am willing to be empathetic to others.

        1. @Ian, If one happens to have lost a limb or requires an ostomy bag or any other medical piece of equipment, the answer is not “Wow. Just wow.” The answer is, “Absolutely yes. you have no idea.”

        2. Seems that my reply is now missing… so here it is again. Hopefully it will remain this time. Doesn’t sound very incendiary or insulting to me…
          “@Ian, If one happens to have lost a limb or requires an ostomy bag or any other medical piece of equipment, the answer is not “Wow. Just wow.” The answer is, “Absolutely yes. You have no idea.”

          1. No one has argued that you shouldn’t be treated with respect and have your medical condition taken into account. However, I was pointing out that this is nothing like a poll tax. An entire shameful history of national segregation and slavery is nothing like being scanned for weapons before boarding a plane. I fully agree that travellers with medical conditions should be screened in an appropriate, polite, respectful, and private (if desired) manner.

            Now if instead of hyperbole someone would like point out which constitutional amendment guarantees the right to fly on an airplane without a search for weapons, please do so.

            You can also engage the question of how the TSA can do a better job of sufficiently screening passengers while balancing privacy and medical needs.

          2. 1) A poll tax was not “segregaton and slavery”….it was paying a fee before voting. Since many poor former slaves couldn’t pay the fee or pass the process, they were not allowed to vote…and here is my analogy…a fundamental right in the Bill of Rights was infringed upon for a select group of people.

            The 4th amendment is “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
            and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
            violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
            supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place
            to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”.

            An inch-by-inch search of one’s body without a warrant, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion is contrary to entire history of law enforcement searches. Police cannot search you with a scanner or touch your private parts without some reason, simply put. There is no reasonable reason an administrative search should be performed which is illegal for policemen.

            The “logic” of allowing inch-by-inch person searches in airports – when no passenger has caused 1 fatality with a working non-metallic bomb in over 51 years – flies in the face of reasonable risk management. Combine that with randomly allowing certain people to bypass scanners diminishes a negligible risk protection even more!

            By the TSA logic, I could make a great case that a mayor’s civilian workers could “treat with respect” homeowners in high crime neighborhoods and force acceptance of a house search to uncover prohibited items such as illegal weapons. There is no difference!

            …… Well, one difference. Unlike airport searches, the house to house searches will actually uncover dangerous people with intent to do harm with illegal weapons…and there is an actual record of incidents in high crime neighborhoods.
            2) The question isn’t “Can the government perform searches”…but can they perform the most invasive searches ever conceived in the US for non-prisoners, if not the world believe it or not, especially when there is no history of a measurable risk in the United States?

            3) It is shameful to assume people profiled for coercive touching of their private parts 100% of the time is “okay” as long as the TSA is “respectful”. It is a crime in all 50 states to coercively touch people inappropriately, under threat of not allowing a constitutional right of free travel within the United States. I am sure government rapists could set appointments, bring flowers, and force criminal contact with mood music….but it doesn’t make it right.

          3. Don’t worry my polite response to your reply was also deleted.
            Seems this forum is being a bit over-moderated.

  10. I suspect they do have a script of sorts, helps make a more consistent experience across the agency, whether good or bad. If you hear the same excuse at every airport then you can’t say that one is making something up to pressure you.

    If the script puts pressure on you, that’s another story. Where is the line between pressuring you and telling you the truth as they believe it?

    As for the policy, I think the tide is slowly moving against it, making them grip onto it harder, to justify the expense and intrusion they have already done. It’s human nature. Even if it is wrong.

    1. I think the random assignment they want to start up of giving normal plebians random access to PreCheck lines shows they want to do something that makes them seem good.

      The sad fact is the proposed “random precheck” is in response to the “inconvenience:” of long lines and not to their unconstitutional scanners and criminal pat downs.

  11. I think it’s a script. I follow this issue closely and have seen comments in a few places from different people about how TSA tries to talk the passenger out of the pat-down and the wording seems similar.

    I’m going to continue testing my theory that the TSA employees at the scanners are directed to comment on passengers’ shirts. Nothing negative on the employee’s part, for once, but it does seem odd that no one working the screening area says anything about my shirts unless they are working the scanners. And it isn’t my shirt choice, as the design themes run the gamut of local brewery to obscure web reference.

    It’s probably part of their BDO voodoo or a weak attempt at “customer service.” It’s OK once, because it seems like a real connection, but like everything with the TSA, it’s superficial and fake.

    1. Depressing….scripting coercive statements to force an action. I can’t share my snarky response ,in this forum, which I will use one day if they press the issue…..

  12. I think the fully body scanners are unreasonable searches. I have had unique surgery on my back to correct a congenital condition. No screws or metal of any kind, but a heck of a lot of scar tissue. Regular metal detectors are a breeze. But the massive amount of scar tissue shows as an “anomaly” on the body scanner so I always get treated to a partial pat down in public. What good is a machine that cannot distinguish between surgical repairs made with out prosthetic devices or metal aids and items that the TSA should be concerned about?

    1. Your situation is exactly why we continue to fight against unconstitutional scanners. FTTUSA.ORG (Freedom To Travel USA) made the argument in the recent NPRM that the scanners don’t detect anything SPECIFIC! Metal detectors detect metal, blood tests detect alcohol, etc.

      Scanners are the only search that detect…nothing…when they are done searching.
      Scanners. Constitutionally, this is a general dragnet search which, UNLIKE ANY OTHER LEGALLY APPROVED GENERAL SEARCH, finds nothing. One can argue its effectiveness is not like other legal searches since it identifies nothing that it finds.

      If ATR scanners could say – after their search – that “Joe has a bomb in his underwear” and it was a 100% true, then I think the scanners would be with us permanently with no clear argument against them. But they can’t do that.

  13. As someone with bi-lateral hip and knee replacements I actually get on line for the scanners because it is much faster than waiting and watching my scanned pocketbook sitting in a bin while I wait in vain for a female agent to come over and then pat me down. At my age I am not concerned about being exposed to xrays- just get me through the fastest and least intrusive way as possible. They ALL use scripts- I’ve had the pat down one so often I say it with the agent.

  14. I opt-out because I wear an insulin pump that (according to the manufacturer) cannot go through the full body scanners or through the x-ray machine. There are legitimate reasons that not all people can go through these machines…Just because you may see someone opting out doesn’t mean they are just doing it to be difficult.

    1. People with medical issues are profiled, as you have noticed.

      It is sad that you felt compelled to say “just because you may see someone opting out doesn’t mean they are just doing it to be difficult.”, which comes across as feeling uncomfortable or guilty that you are being exposed as “not normal” or “under suspicion” to others in line.

      The fact the TSA makes you – who is “an innocent person with nothing to hide” – feel that way shows why the TSA approach is wrong.

      Two words: “Medical PreCheck”. No part of the GeTSApo has suggested it, have they? They are only catering to the inconveniences of waiting for the high-dollar spending passengers.

      That is all you need to know about your unfortunate situation.

  15. I hear it every time I fly… It makes me crazy when they say .. it won’t affect your pacemaker… I always ask what on earth made them give up their well paying electrophysiologist careers to work for TSA…

    1. Yes, I am planning to quit all my many doctors and just start going to the airport on a regular basis. The GED-less high school dropouts at TSA are so much more knowledgeable than all my specialists. And sooooo much cheaper!

  16. I just went through Denver and opted out. There was no hint of anyone trying to talking me into the scanner. The ‘enhanced pat down guy’ didn’t exactly hurry over so my stuff was already through the X-ray machine and had been waiting a few minutes.

    I wonder what would have happened if someone tried to pick up my stuff and I started yelling?

  17. All theaters require scripts for their actors…

    The cancer scanners in Vancouver, BC are located behind the metal detectors, and only used for secondary screening. Oh wait, that’s Canada — never mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: