You've probably been following the news this week about the choices facing holiday travelers as they pass through security on their way to our nation's air travel options:
The number of scanners has roughly doubled since Napolitano's announcement and they are now found in 68 U.S. airports, and the Transportation Security Administration says the controversial devices have proven to be a success.
"We have received minimal complaints," a TSA spokeswoman told CNET yesterday. She said that the agency, part of DHS, keeps track of air traveler complaints and has not seen a significant rise.
A growing number of airline passengers, labor unions, and advocacy groups, however, say the new procedures--a choice of full-body scans or what the TSA delicately calls "enhanced pat-downs"--go too far. (They were implemented without much fanfare in late October, amid lingering questions (PDF) about whether travelers are always offered a choice of manual screening.)
Some travelers are also livid about how children are being screened. During a trip last Sunday by a father and son through Orlando airport in Florida, the 8-year-old boy was selected for extra screening by TSA after going through the metal detector.
The father said the officer described the procedure before conducting it. Then he patted down the boy in the open security area, using the backside of his hands to check his genital area, he said.
"I didn't think it was going to be as horrible as he was describing," said the boy's father, Bill, who works as a lobbyist in Washington and did not want his full name used.
"We spend my child's whole life telling him that only mom, dad and a doctor can touch you in your private area, and now we have to add TSA agent and that's just wrong," he told Reuters. "At some point the terrorists have won."
And then there's this, too:
PHOENIX - A Washington, D.C. resident has formed a website critical of TSA pat-down procedures, calling on people to "opt out" on one of the busiest travel days of the nation.
Brian Sodergren designed optoutday.com in an effort to get people to experience the new TSA pat-down procedures.
"Getting a plane ticket doesn't mean you're consenting to someone being able to look under your clothes or feel your genitals," said Sodergren during a phone interview with ABC15.
Sodergren wants passengers, pilots and flight attendants to "opt-out" of the X-ray body scanners and go through the pat down procedure. [Link in original--E.M.]
So, unless the nation wakes up and refuses to accept the "naked picture" scanners and/or a pat down that includes genital contact, flying anywhere just became permission for employees of the Transportation Security Administration either to see images of your naked body or to grope you--or, possibly, both. And if you are traveling with children--why, according to the federal government, failure to grope an eight-year-old's private areas might somehow be unsafe for the traveling public! So any objection on your part is irrational, and deserves to be derided and ignored.
With all of this in mind, I'd like to suggest an appropriate Christmas Anthem for those hapless members of the public who have to travel during this year's holiday season (to the tune of "Home for the Holidays):
Oh, I guess I'll be groped for the holidays, 'Cause you know I've got to fly a long way home, So I'll pause at security and stand in place: Since the TSA won't let me if I don't.
I'll walk right by the naked scanner with my hands above my head Like the victim of a mugging or some crime, And down the hall someone'll look right at my figure without clothes: It's degrading and insultin' Gee, you'd say that it's revoltin'
But I guess I'll be groped for the holidays, 'Cause no matter how far I have to roam, If I won't let the TS Agents have their way, For the holidays, I won't be going home.
What's that you say about the Constitution? Fourth Amendment? Well, If you want to fly those rights don't mean a thing, See, the terrorists might win if TSA can't cop a feel Even Granny might be sittin' On some C4 in her knittin',
So let's all just be groped for the holidays, Like good mindless little sheeple-bleating drones, We'll put up with abuse in a million ways, For the holidays, if it means getting home.