Colorado

Nov 16, 2010 8:55 PM by Zach Thaxton

New TSA imaging and pat-down procedures irk more travelers

The Transportation Security Administration's new security procedures involving advanced X-ray imaging and thorough pat-downs at airports have some people reconsidering holiday travel plans.  "I'm thinking twice about it," said Melanie Duke of Colorado Springs.

The new procedures, enacted more than a month ago, have resulted in nationwide debate as to whether they are too intrusive.  The advanced X-ray imaging can reveal the intimate form of travelers' bodies and pat-down procedures now include touching of passengers' buttocks, genitals, and breasts.  "That's pretty uncomfortable," said Landis Hester, 17, of Colorado Springs, "because if you touch me where I don't want to be touched, I'm going to get pretty mad."

Carrie Harmon, a Denver-based spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration, said the Colorado Springs Airport does not have the X-ray machines, also known as Advanced Imaging Technology, or AIT, so passengers who set off the metal detector will be subjected to the new pat-downs.  "Sometimes we use them in random screening," Harmon added.

Passengers who opt out of X-ray imaging at airports where the technology is available will also be subjected to the pat-downs.  Some passengers have expressed concern about possible radiation exposure from the X-rays.  "The advanced imaging technology is optional for all passengers," Harmon said.  "If passengers choose not to go through, then they will receive alternative screening, which includes a pat-down."

The TSA says the new procedures were enacted in response to evolving techniques used by terrorists to conceal explosives on -- and in -- their bodies.  While many passengers welcome the added level of security and don't mind being subjected to additional, more intimate procedures if it ensures security, others say subjecting all passengers to the procedures presumes any and all passengers could be a terrorist and is akin to suspecting their guilt until proven innocent.  "You're really putting a lot on the general public, identifying them as the enemy," Duke said.

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