Naked Pictures or Federally Mandated Molestation

November 5, 2010

Naked Pictures or Federally Mandated Molestation

A fellow blogger, Tracie Nall and I had mental telepathy yesterday – within seconds I posted a question on Facebook and she posted a blog about the this new travel topic that is blowing the minds of the majority of airline travelers.

Thank you Tracie for bringing such important information to our followers and readers.

Next week my seven year old daughter, Katarina, and I will be traveling to Arizona to visit family.  It is a trip that we are both very excited about, there will be many special memories made while we are there. We both love to fly. In fact for a lot of years I thought about one day becoming a flight attendant. 

Katarina and I will go to Arizona next week.

We might even just stay in Arizona.

That is not because of all the family fun we will be having. It is because of the AIT Full Body Scanners that the Transportation Security Administration is going to be using as primary security for Sky Harbor International Airport when it is time for us to return to Florida.

What is the deal with these scanners?

There are questions about the safety of the scanners, but that is not what I am concerned with today. Today I want to talk about the invasion of privacy.

I’m sure we all remember the TSA worker in Miami who was made fun of by a supervisor about the size of his penis, after going through an AIT scanner.

Earlier in the year, the UK said that children under the age of 18 must be exempted from going through the scanners because the images created would violate child pornography laws. In March that decision was reversed, because the government decided that “to exclude children risked undermining the security measures”. This decision was made even though the security minister admitted that the scanners are only 50-60% effective and a week prior a security guard at Heathrow Airport was caught staring at images of a female colleague in a body scanner. Their reasons for scanning minors did not address the problem of the illegal images that are being created in the process or the violation that is taking place.

I have spent most of my day looking into this situation, finding out what our rights are where body scanners are concerned. I have been calling airports, airlines, the TSA, and researching online.

I know that TSA employees have to pass a background check before being hired. But as TSA officials said when asked about a TSA employee who was arrested for the statutory rape of a 14 year old girl, “Unfortunately these checks do not predict future behavior”.

I understand that the person actually viewing the pictures is in a separate room and does not know the identity of the person pictured. This does not offer me any comfort. Often when perverts buy images of child pornography, they are not in the same room as the child being pictured and do not know the identity of the child. Does that make child pornography okay? Of course not. It is also not okay for a TSA employee to view images of my child or me where our naked bodies are visible. I will not consent to that.

I was told that we can legally opt out of walking through the scanners, and instead be patted down. When I asked for further information about what a pat down would consist of, people where hesitant to answer. One security employee at Sky Harbor told me that they are not allowed to discuss the pat down procedure over the phone. He said that I would have to “ask for it at the airport and see what happens”.

That did not make me feel very good about the pat down procedure. The big news on the pat downs is that they have recently changed the way they are conducted. Some of the new procedures are covered in this video from ABC15 in Phoenix:

While the video shows snippets of pat downs happening, and discusses that breasts will be touched, it does not discuss what else will be touched. 

After speaking with four different TSA employees on the phone today, I finally got one to be honest with me about what exactly the pat down would include. She told me, “They will touch you with an open palm. They will touch your breasts and feel completely around them. They will touch your butt.  They will run their hands all the way up your inner thigh and touch your crotch area.”

I asked if that would apply to my seven year old daughter as well, and she answered affirmatively.

Let me make this very clear.
The choice is:
Allow the TSA to take images of your body where you will essentially be naked. Images of your children’s body that in any other setting would be considered criminal.
or
Allow a TSA agent to pat down your body in such a way that they will fondle your breasts and touch your crotch. An act that if preformed on your child in any other setting would be considered sexual abuse.
Essentially, the choice is:
You can give up naked pictures of yourself
or
allow the federally mandated molestation.

These are your only choices when using an airport that has the AIT Full Body Scanners as the primary security.

After explaining the new pat down procedure to me, the TSA employee said, ” you do not want your child to have to go through one of these pat downs. They are extremely invasive and upsetting”. She didn’t really have to tell me that, because I already knew from the description that there was no way I would allow anyone to touch my child in this inappropriate way.

I realized that we will not ever fly out of Sky Harbor International Airport again. This started my search for an airport that did not yet have these scanners in use. When I spoke with a different TSA employee about an hour later to ask questions about the airport in Tuscon, she wanted to know why I was trying to find an airport that did not use the scanners. When I explained to her about the pat down procedures being unacceptable, she told me that the agent I spoke to earlier should not have told me that. That they do not touch anyone’s crotch at any time during a pat down.

Then I found an article from CNN. It details the experience of a CNN employee, Rosemary Fitzpatrick, with the new security pat down procedures. She clearly says in the article that the screener briefly touched her crotch. She also says, “I felt helpless, I felt violated, and I felt humiliated”.

Michael Roberts, a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, has refused to go through the scanner or be patted down. He probably won’t be able to keep his job, because not going through security means no flying.

I understand the need for security. I do not complain when they make me take off my shoes, or when they do not allow me to bring large containers of liquid on the plane. I do not complain when they rifle though my  suitcases. I wait in line and put my belongings through the x-ray machine and walk through the metal detectors. If a TSA employee wants to pull me out of line and hand search my carry-on, I smile and say okay.

I will not smile and say okay to inappropriate pictures of me or my minor child.
I will not smile and say okay to inappropriate touching of me or my minor child.
I will not be bullied by the TSA. No one has the right to touch me or view my naked body.

You might think that I am secretly a conspiracy theorist or that I am overreacting. That is your choice.

It is my choice to not have my freedom stripped away and my body violated by strangers. It is my choice to drive three hours to the airport in Tuscon to be able to take what will probably be my last trip on an airplane to return home. As the scanners get installed in more and more airports, the choices for molestation-free flight will become less and less.

Benjamin Frankin is often quoted to say, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserves neither liberty or safety.”  I think that applies here.

What do you think? Would you go through an AIT Full Body Scanner? Would you put your child through one? What about the new Pat Down Procedures? Is that something that you would allow yourself or your child to be subjected to?

You can read more from Tracie at: From Tracie
Thank you so much Tracie for sharing with us.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Anny
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  1. Heather
    November 10, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    I agree and I wonder what can be done about it? Could an individual employee of the TSA be arrested and charged with child molestation? If their agents are charged with molesting children that might make an impression. As parents we spend so much time telling our kids not to allow people to touch them inappropriately, this completely destroys that lesson. It’s awful.

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