Today is “Opt-Out Day”, which was intended to be an airport protest against the body scanners now being utilized by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to scan certain individuals who are going to travel by airplane.
Ever since the September 11, 2001 attacks, which involved hijacking airplanes and flying them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and killing nearly 3,000 people, airport and airline security has been heightened. After Richard Reid was found on an airplane trying to ignite the bomb he had concealed in his shoe, airline travelers had to remove their shoes for inspection. Approximately one year ago, a man tried to get a bomb on a plane by concealing it in his underwear. Now in the name of technology, randomly flagged passengers are subject to additional screening procedures.
Critics say the body scanners essentially take an image of the person’s body through their clothes, but these images are very graphic. The TSA does not delete these images and there is concern over what is done with them. There is also a significant concern over the level of radiation in the scanning machine.
If you are selected and you do not want to go through the body scanner, then you can opt-out and go for the manual screening. The TSA recently made the manual screening more thorough. There have been numerous problems with the new pat down process. One man’s urostomy bag was ruptured by the TSA agents. The TSA agents were made aware of the bag, but were too rough with the pat down. A woman was forced to take off and show a TSA agent a prosthetic breast for inspection after the prosthetic had been man handled. A video showing a near strip search of a 12 year old child by a TSA agent has been posted. In the video, the child is shown in an open area of the airport being told to take off his shirt.
For “Opt-Out Day”, passengers traveling on one of the busiest travel day of the year that were selected for additional screening were to refuse to go through the scanner and be subject to the pat downs. This could be a disaster because the pat downs take significantly more time than the body scanning. According to news reports, luckily for travelers, most passengers are not opting-out of the body scanners. Although it would be interesting for a mass protest to successfully convey the frustration that airline passengers are feeling, by not opting-out, everyone can get to their Thanksgiving celebrations on time.