Airport Security follies

Comments: Posting 2 articles. Both very interesting. More of my comments after both articles. (the 2nd article is absolutely astonishing! Check out the video with the link!)

Opt Out of a Body Scan? Then Brace Yourself


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.

I don’t like these things, and not just because of privacy concerns or because of what some critics have asserted are radiation safety issues with some of the machines that use X-ray technology.

No, I don’t like the fact that I have to remove every item from every pocket, including my wallet and things as trivial as a Kleenex. You then strike a pose inside with your hands submissively held above your head, like some desperado cornered by the sheriff in a Western movie, while the see-through-clothes machine makes an image of your body.

The T.S.A.’s position is that anyone can “opt out” of a body scan for reasons of privacy or whatever, but will then be subjected to a thorough physical pat-down and careful search of belongings.

In my case, I had been routinely using a normal metal detector checkpoint, when I was ordered to switch lanes and instead go to one of the new machines. I said I would prefer not to, given that my carry-on bag, laptop and shoes were already trundling along the regular machine’s conveyor belt, out of sight. That’s when the shouting started.

As of Monday afternoon, the agency had not responded to several requests for comment on this. Last week, the agency did tell me that there were 317 of the advanced imaging technology machines now in use at 65 airports around the country.

About 500 should be online by the end of the year, the agency said, and another 500 are expected to be installed next year. Ultimately, the agency plans to have the new machines replace metal detectors at all of the roughly 2,000 airport checkpoints.

Exclusive: Man in disguise boards international flight


Canadian authorities are investigating an "unbelievable" incident in which a passenger boarded an Air Canada flight disguised as an elderly man, according to a confidential alert obtained by CNN.

The incident occurred on October 29 on Air Canada flight AC018 to Vancouver originating in Hong Kong. An intelligence alert from the Canada Border Services Agency describes the incident as an "unbelievable case of concealment."

"Information was received from Air Canada Corporate Security regarding a possible imposter on a flight originating from Hong Kong," the alert says. "The passenger in question was observed at the beginning of the flight to be an elderly Caucasian male who appeared to have young looking hands. During the flight the subject attended the washroom and emerged an Asian looking male that appeared to be in his early 20s."

After landing in Canada, Border Services Officers (BSOs) escorted the man off the plane where he "proceeded to make a claim for refugee protection," the alert says.

"The subject initially claimed to be in possession of one bag; however, flight crew approached the BSOs with two additional pieces of luggage which were believed to belong to the subject. One bag contained the subject's personal clothing items while the second contained a pair of gloves. The third contained a 'disguise kit' which consisted of a silicone type head and neck mask of an elderly Caucasian male, a brown leather cap, glasses and a thin brown cardigan."

The man put on the disguise for the officers who "noted he very much resembled an elderly Caucasian man, complete with mimicking the movements of an elderly person. The subject admitted at this time that he had boarded the flight with the mask on and had removed it several hours later," according to the alert.

Final comments: I had my first full body scan in Charlotte yesterday. I feel sorry for the TSA agent who had to view my picture! He probably had a vomiting fit afterward! So they take a handicapped guy who cannot walk (or barely walks) without crutches. They take my belt. Somehow my pants stayed up (thankfully for all those viewing!). I have to stand with my arms above my head. I cannot hold onto anything. I am tipping forward / backward &  left and right. Ultimately I got the hand pat down anyway. This must be a fun job. The man uses the front of his hands to run up my inner thighs all the way up! For all this indignation (multiplied by hundreds of thousands of other ordinary people, handicapped people, and grannies) some guy can put on a sophisticated rubber face and get through security! Call me crazy but I see billions wasted. At MSP I used the elevator from the concourse level down to the baggage claim level. That elevator is guarded by a TSA in a chair leaning sleepily against the wall.


  1. It's almost as if the TSA has this unerring view to the most expensive, least effective ways of securing planes. Multimillion dollar imagining machines that El Al says will miss many explosives? Sign them up!

    Arming pilots expeditiously, knowing that someone who can be trusted with a $40 million airplane capable of taking out the Sears Tower ought to be trusted with a Glock?

    Better get some bureaucratic roadblocks on that one.

    Verifying that picture on ID is actually the person there, and giving extra scrutiny to Muslim males between the ages of 20 and 40?

    Nah. Can't do that, makes way too much sense.

  2. Static photo here

    Looks eeriely like my deceased Father in Law (d 1991)


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