Sexual Molestation and Radiation: Why the TSA Has Gone Too Far
In the aftermath of 9/11 and the subsequent terrorist attempts around the world, air travel passengers have grown accustomed to increasingly bizarre and invasive travel security procedures. Only the looks of terror on our children's faces as they walk through security remind us of the cost of homeland security.
First, in 2001, there was the failed shoe bomb plot masterminded by deranged Richard Reid. End result: 10 years later, air travelers risk foot fungus and cold feet as they relinquish their shoes for security scans.
Then, in 2006, there was the failed liquid explosives plot in England. End result: The banishing of liquids over 100 ml, with the exception of baby formula which no longer feels very safe to feed to infants after it's gone through a strict security screening.
Travelers accepted these new security regulations as the terror alert levels changed and climbed the colors of the rainbow, but this Thanksgiving season, the TSA finally seems to have gone too far in infringing upon civil liberties in the name of the war on terror.
Both pilots and consumers are concerned about the invasion of privacy and health risks of repeated x-ray exposure in the new full body x-ray scanners recently implemented in many US airports and are calling for all consumers to request pat downs instead of being scanned on the day before Thanksgiving. Having to scan the majority of travelers on the biggest travel day of the year will be a crushing blow to TSA operations.
Yet pat downs hardly seem like the answer because of the invasive enhanced pat down procedure recently implemented by the TSA that includes buttocks, genitalia, and breasts. Erin Chase, author of the $5 Dinner Cookbook, went through the pat down procedure last Thursday at the Dayton, Ohio airport and felt sexually violated by the inspection. John Tyner refused to go through the enhanced pat down procedure over the weekend at the San Diego airport, and was escorted out by airport security.
Although we've put up with the inconvenience of security inspections for close to a decade since 9/11, with this new wave of changes, the TSA has gone too far, stripping travelers of too much dignity. When I fly home for Thanksgiving on Tuesday alone with my children, I'll have to choose between exposing them to unnecessary radiation or having them see me be groped by a stranger in uniform. Travelers shouldn't have to feel sexually molested in order to earn the right to fly.