November 20th, 2010
11:48 AM ET

Scans and pat-downs: What you should know

Marnie Hunter

(CNN) - Heading to the airport for the first time in months? My, how things have changed.

New security checkpoint measures, which some travelers call "groping" and "virtual strip searches," have sparked a public outcry.

The ramped up use of pat-downs and full-body scanning is needed to stop non-metallic threats including weapons and explosives from getting aboard planes, the Transportation Security Administration says. And it appears that most Americans agree. In a recent CBS News poll, 4 out of 5 Americans supported the use of full-body scans.

"Being scanned sure beats having the plane explode in mid-air," wrote a CNN.com reader who is among the thousands of commenters who have weighed in on the issue. "If something were to happen then everyone will be outraged that the TSA 'allowed' a terrorist act."

But that hasn't stopped a growing group of objectors, from civil rights and privacy advocates to scientists and pilots, from loudly claiming these measures are too invasive, ineffective and possibly unsafe.

There's even a call to declare the frenzied travel day before Thanksgiving National Opt-Out Day, urging travelers selected for full-body scanning to refuse.

Full story

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Dana Morgan

    Other than the way they patted down my leg the pat down I got was the same. Im confused. Did anyone have an old patdown and a new one like me?

    November 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  2. Yetunde Olabisi Ajayi

    Can i ask these question, when are we going to draw a line between invading peoples' privacy/ better still dehumanizing the work of God 's hand and Technology?
    – Who are the real threats, innocent citizens or the adventurous so called inventors?
    – Whoever controls the technology knows how to circumvent his invention! Maybe we need to look deeper beyond the surface to know who the real threats are!

    November 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  3. Jacque Hall

    Gee Mary I guess I should have read the comments before I said anything. You and I are on the same page with this. I think your comment is a sound idea to consider.

    November 21, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  4. Jacque Hall

    Would the use of bomb sniffing dogs be an alternative to the pat downs?

    November 21, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  5. Bob S.

    Just a recommendation for opt-out day Thanksgiving Day. No problem, just form a line for the opt-outs and have 2 security personnel rotate marching the opt-outs to a special room and then give them the pat-down. When one group is patted-down then they can be marched back to have their luggage scanned (after again waiting their turn in line. "No pat-down" "No Fly". Do not hire additional personnel for the opt-out disrupters.

    Using this system only the opt-outs will be late for their flights and will not disrupt "NORMAL passengers".

    Secondly let me say that these protestors must have the backings of terriorist. I see no reason what-so-ever not to use the body scan for there is no way for the scanner monitors to see you in person for the monitor is elsewhere. And there is no pat-down requirement unless the body scan is opted-out.

    In this present society only the crooks, terriorist, and anti-americans do all the objections for which the majority approves.

    November 21, 2010 at 10:55 am |
  6. jenny

    i fly all the time for work and i do not have any problem with a pat down or a full body scan.....anyone who does not want to submit to this should not be allowed to fly. i want to get on a plane and know that i will arrive alive.
    For those people who are uncomfortable with someone looking at their body in a scan or having someone pat them down should think about the other people who also don't want to be scanned and who might be carrying explosives on their body....they should look around when they get to their seat and wonder if that person sitting next to them should have had a body scan! i don't want to wonder that.

    November 21, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  7. Cheryl

    Seriously, people need to relax about airport security. A TSA employee is not violating you when you get a pat-down. I traveled to and from India. Every woman was pat-down by a female security person behind a screen in New Delhi. They used the back of their hands. For a few minutes of being "frisked" it was harmless. I feel safer by having the TSA checking more people. Just wish every airport would be consistent in their procedures. If you don't like the extra security, DON'T FLY!

    November 21, 2010 at 8:06 am |
  8. Michele S.- FL

    Mary #5 has this right! Did every government official go through a scanner before deciding to enforce this? The government has no right to be touching our bodies–they already have their hands in our pockets! And just wait when they find out down the road that these scanners were harmful to humans! Eapecially to those that travel on a regular basis. Another ploy to thin out the population??? What happen to going "green" boys? Get the dogs out To the airports and realize that the American people are calling you out on this one!

    November 21, 2010 at 7:28 am |
  9. Catherine Berryhill

    Americans, you are becoming like slaves to wicked human authorities. Please stand up and resist. If you will turn to God, He will help you stop the madness.++

    November 21, 2010 at 4:11 am |
  10. Jim F

    I understand the right to privacy, but what about the right of all other passengers to be protected? The media should be asking people if other travellers want to board a plane with someone who has had a fit about being searched, or someone who has been exempted, or a kid's Teddy bear that has not been scanned.

    Unfortunately it' s all or nothing and yes, the terrorists have won but my principles don't extend to getting blown out of the air by someone or something that was not examined because another passenger got their knickers in a knot. Do yours?

    November 20, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
  11. Barbara

    Having gone through a pat down, i would call it sexual assault rather than sexual harrassment! I have no choice but to go through the "new pat down" procedure as I have a implanted medical device. If I had other means to visit my dying mother, I would not fly! I would like to know if Pres. Obamaa and his family have been subjected to the new search procedures and find it acceptable to have his wife and childern groped.

    November 20, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  12. Chris

    What does the scanner reveil for the millions of men and women who wear incontinence pads and briefs or women who wear feminine hygiene products. Will the pat down necessitate wrapping a towel around the waist and removing these protective products in front of either a male or female TSA agent? If the scanner shows the outline of these protective products than, as far as I am concerned this be an invasion of privacy? On the other hand, if the scanner fails to show that a person is wearing protective products then these products could easily be used to move small quantities of explosive devices into the U.S. The scanners and the pat downs are an incredible waste of money and time. There is no way we are going to prevent a terrorist act on U.S. soil. The terrorist are already in the U.S. They are plotting their next move as we speak.

    November 20, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  13. Mary

    I'd like to know why a third option for scanning is not being considered, namely, the use of dogs. Dogs would pick up a scent very quickly and then a further scan or pat down could be carried out.

    Also, what exactly can a pat down tell using the back of the hand? What exactly can they identify by touching someone's groin with the back of a hand? A bulge? Can they tell the difference between a menstrual pad, an elderly person's Depends pad or a packet of explosives? And how do we tell our children that they should not let strangers touch them in inappropriate places but the government should?

    I'd like to see them consider the use of dogs.

    Furthermore, they don't really know the effect of these low level x-rays on fetuses, people with cancer or other severe diseases.

    November 20, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  14. Robert Stroney

    If you do not want to be patted down, drive. Safety First. Period! Either that – or we should have total body lasers – so we won't have to worry about, "Look Mom – No Hands!"

    November 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  15. Carol F. King

    Question, how many explosives etc. have been stopped as a result of TSA screening? The last report I heard was NONE.

    Eventually a Terrorist will get on a plane with an explosive in a "body cavity". So then all flight passengers will have to submit to a "body cavity" search to fly? Let's think about how far our Civil Rights have been degraded in the name of safety, compare that to how many explosives have been stopped by TSA scans, and look at the next step.

    Mr. Cooper how about looking into how many explosives etc. have been stopped by TSA in your "Keeping them honest" reports.

    November 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  16. Michelle

    4 out of 5 americans support full-body scans. Yet only 1 out of every 5 americans fly. I'm going to take a quick guess on who the 80% supporters are...

    November 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
  17. Briana

    I just went through the full body scanner, and it wasn't even as bad as people made it seem! I'm one of those 4 🙂

    November 20, 2010 at 11:59 am |