Opt Out of a Body Scan? Then Brace Yourself

Thursday, November 4, 2010
By Paul Martin

JOE SHARKEY
NYTimes.com

HAVING been taught by nuns in grade school and later going through military boot camp, I have always disliked uniformed authorities shouting at me. So I was unhappy last week when some security screeners at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago started yelling.

“Opt out! We got an opt out!” one bellowed about me in a tone that people in my desert neighborhood in Tucson usually reserve for declaring, “Rattlesnake!”

Other screeners took up the “Opt out!” shout. I was marched from the metal detector lane to one of those nearby whole-body imagers, ordered to take everything out of my pockets, remove my belt and hold my possessions up high. Then I was required to stand still while I received a rough pat-down by a man whose résumé, I suspected, included experience at a state prison.

“Hold your pants up!” he ordered me.

What did I do to deserve this? Well, as I approached the checkpoints, I had two choices. One was a familiar lane with the metal detector, so I put my bag on that. To my right was a separate lane dominated with what the Transportation Security Administration initially called “whole-body imagers” but has now labeled “advanced imaging technology” units. Critics, of course, call them strip-search machines.

The Rest…HERE

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