I almost feel bad for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), whose new invasive pat-down procedures (done on passengers who opt out of going through the new full-body scanners now installed at most major airports) have been blog, t-shirt, and late-night comedy fodder for over a week now. After all, the TSA (in theory, and hopefully in practice) is only trying to protect passengers from security threats (i.e., being blown up, shot, knifed, or poisoned by their fellow passengers). Though it seems some TSA agents have taken to their new responsibilities a little too enthusiastically. (For examples, just type in "TSA pat down" into your favorite search engine.)
And while that Saturday Night Live TSA sketch is pretty funny, as are some of the t-shirts I have seen, there is nothing funny about the way some TSA agents have interpreted the new security procedures, inappropriately touching passengers, especially children. (To see TSA guidelines for passenger security checkpoints, click here.)
Sure, no one is forcing passengers to be patted down (unless an agent finds them suspicious or they have the misfortune of being subject to a random security check -- been there, done that). But the alternatives aren't all that appealing either -- i.e., full-body scans (which some feel are akin to virtual strip searches) or older, less effective screening methods -- at least for some people.
Sadly, I think that even with full-body scanners and pat downs, if someone really wants to blow up an airplane or inflict damage, he or she will figure out a way to do it -- and that it's only a matter of time until we hear about some case where someone posted full-body scan pictures of passengers (famous or otherwise) on the Internet and this whole thing really blows up.
But what do you think about the new TSA rules? Are they fair? Would you rather undergo a full-body scan or a pat down? Let me know via the Comments.
UPDATED: You can read the latest on the airport screening controversy here. Btw, I am surprised no one has used the headline "Pistole Whipped" to describe the beating the TSA chief, John S. Pistole, has taken in the court of public opinion and in the media. Also take a gander at this clip on how to protect your privates from prying eyes:
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