Protect Yourself and Your Family Against TSA Tyranny
by Michael Roberts
Letter submitted to USA Today on Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 1:46 PM; rejected for publication at 2:35 PM:
For those who may still be unfamiliar, please allow me to briefly explain what’s happening in the U.S.A. today. When a law-abiding citizen wishes to travel out of any major airport in the country where the latest air transportation security procedures have been implemented, he or she will now be subjected to what can only be truthfully described as a virtual strip search. The federal government is using funds raised through the Recovery Act to stimulate the economy by installing expensive new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) systems at airport security checkpoints throughout the nation. These devices enable screeners to see beneath travelers’ clothing to an extremely invasive level of detail. For example, the images are graphic enough to enable agents to determine whether a man has been circumcised, or whether a woman is menstruating.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is quick to point out that this program is optional. Individuals who decline this indignity, or “opt out,” will instead be physically frisked, which entails a federal security agent’s hands passing over the entire body, including the buttocks, breasts, hair, and genitals. The agent will explain the procedure beforehand, and the traveler is expected to consent and comply or else opt back into the AIT scanner. Otherwise, he or she will not be admitted to the secured side of the facility or allowed to board an aircraft.
On October 15, I was turned away from the security screening checkpoint at Memphis International Airport when I declined both AIT screening and the secondary “enhanced pat-down” procedure. I was attempting to enter the facility for my commute to Houston, where I’m based as a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, doing business as Continental Express. I did, however, pass through a standard impulse induction metal detector without triggering an alarm, just as I have done approximately once per week at that same checkpoint (which happens to be in Terminal C – hence, “Checkpoint Charlie”) for the past four and a half years.