Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Travelers, Lawmakers Up in Arms over Airport Security Measures

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Travelers, Lawmakers Up in Arms over Airport Security Measures

Article excerpt

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, 1.6 million travelers are expected to fly. How will passengers deal with new airport security measures critics say invade personal privacy?

As the high-travel Thanksgiving holiday approaches, travelers and lawmakers are up in arms over airport security measures.

On special web sites, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the U.S. Travel Association have been getting thousands of complaints. Facebook and Twitter are smoking with posted outrage.

In response to terrorist threats, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now gives airline passengers two choices: Get a full-body scan using low-dose radiation that shows a naked image - everything from head to toe - which may or not be harmful to one's health, depending on the expert cited. Or refuse the scan and have a stranger run his or her hands over every part of your body.

Are TSA pat-downs and full-body scans unconstitutional?

Critics call it a no-win choice: Get zapped or get groped.

"With the holiday travel season fast approaching, we need to make sure that security measures are in place that actually make us more secure without compromising passenger privacy," says the ACLU, which is urging people to sign its petition to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

In Washington, meanwhile, Rep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas has introduced the "American Traveler Dignity Act."

"It removes the immunity from anybody in the federal government that does anything that you or I can't do," says Paul. "If you can't grope another person and if you can't X-ray people and endanger them with possible X-rays, you can't take nude photographs of individuals, why do we allow the government to do it?"

The congressional concern is bipartisan.

Reps. Bennie Thompson (D) of Mississippi and Sheila Jackson Lee (D) of Texas (who chair the Committee on Homeland Security and the transportation security and infrastructure subcommittee, respectively) have asked the TSA for detailed information on the new enhanced security system and how the agency is handling complaints. …

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