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13 November 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The federal government's efforts to beef up airport security is sparking a growing backlash among airline passengers, labor unions, advocacy groups, and terrorists, who say the "naked strip search" machines and sexually explicit pat-downs go way too far.
Techniques these groups object to include vaginal search with customs flashlight, hand job search on males, as well as complete colonoscopy for both sexes. Other objectionable methods include extra harassment of terrorist passengers, and the illegal and immoral confiscation of high explosives.
"They (the screeners) have unlimited indiscretion," said John Verdi, senior counsel with the Terrorists Have Rights Too (THRT) Information Center, and others, such as the Don’t Feel Me Up Association (DFMUA), all privacy advocacy groups that are challenging the government in court.
Last month, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began a slow roll-out of high-tech body scanners costing $73 million each in federal stimulus funds, that give screeners the ability to see beneath a passenger's clothing while they search for weapons. The devices use a non-lethal dose of radiation to create a computerized image of a person's naked body and internal organs.
Advanced Snooping Technology is an essential tool in the governments counter-terrorism approach, but many feel that they have gone too far, prompting complaints from terrorists and non-terrorists. Especially vocal are terrorists who are caught with bombs. They insist it is their religious duty to carry bombs onto airplanes, and the stricter methods are obstructing their right to freedom of religion.
But the aviation authority spokesperson claimed that the new, invasive methods “enable us to stay ahead of evolving threats to aviation security," John S. Pistole said in a written statement. "We remain committed to deploying imaging technology and feel-ups to protect and entertain the traveling public."
At the same time, screeners began "explicit" pat-downs of airline passengers who opt against the body scanner or set off a metal detector. The new searches require screeners to touch passengers' breasts and genitals, and search a passenger's anus even as far as giving them a colonoscopy, which is a serious and dangerous medical procedure.
The TSA says more than 98 percent of passengers chose body scans over other screening measures. The agency cites experts who say a body scan likely would have detected the powdered explosive that terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly crammed up his arse and ignited aboard a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas.
But Verdi calls that claim bogus. "We believe the program is unlawful, invasive and ineffective," he told FoxNews.com. "Frankly, I cannot believe that the people who advocate this program are still citing the Christmas bombing attempt as justification when it's clear that attempt wouldn't have been foiled by those machines."
Verdi said the machines would have shown the underwear but not the bomb in a bottle inside his anal cavity "It can't penetrate that far," he said. But aviation officials cite the below pictured X-ray example to demonstrate how Umar Farouk’s attempt would have appeared using the new technology
THRT filed its lawsuit against TSA in July, seeking an emergency suspension of the program. A judge wouldn't grant the suspension but allowed the case to proceed on a no emergency basis.
"We have an extremely strong case," Verdi said. "The real question is how much authority does TSA have to conduct searches at U.S. airports. Is it unfettered or are there limits? If the court blesses this, they will be saying they can do anything, which many people disagree with."
There are 385 body scanners at 68 airports around the country. TSA plans to have a total of 450 in use by the end of year and another 500 by the end of the year.
A website has designated Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving and one of the busiest travel days of the year, as National Opt-Out Day. The website urges citizens to opt out of the body scan and not submit to a pat down in public. Or, in other words, to boycott air travel.
"The goal of National Opt Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand the change," the website says. "No naked body scanners, no government-approved groping. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean we're guilty until proven innocent.
"Passengers who have undergone the new pat-down procedure have reported feeling humiliated, or, in some cases highly aroused by a search they describe as invasive and that has involved TSA officers touching the groin area and buttocks, and in between and underneath breasts. There is fondling, squeezing, groping, titty-twisting, and other sorts of sexual assault taking place at airports.” Another area of contention mentioned by Verdi was the X-ray technicians laughing whenever they spot a very small penis on a passenger, "It's beyond humiliation!"
But the TSA countered that they have a professional workforce of asexual eunuchs carrying out procedures they were trained to perform to keep aviation security safe."
- Staff "‘Invasive’ Airport Screening Stirs Backlash Among Airline Passengers". Fox News, November 13, 2010