Is the TSA’s “opt-out” policy a scam?


How badly does the TSA want you to use its full-body scanners? Badly enough to bend a few facts, say passengers like Melissa Paul.

Paul’s story is definitely worth paying attention to, even if it looks familiar. And it’s a timely one, too, in light of a federal judge’s declaration yesterday that air travel is a right, not a privilege. It’ll make you wonder if the TSA’s so-called “opt-out” policy isn’t just a big scam that’s meant to herd us into one of these machines.

Wait for the poll, please.

A few weeks ago, Paul was making an international connection through Phoenix, so she had to go through security a second time.

“They opened the Pre-Check area to other travelers and I thought I would get the regular metal detector instead of the full body imaging scanner,” she recalls.

She was wrong.

“The TSA agent directed me to the full-body scanner after my companion and I had already placed our bags on the conveyor belt for the X-ray scanner,” she says.

Paul, like a lot of smart air travelers, prefers not to use the poorly-tested and controversial advanced imaging technology.

She continues,

I was standing right next to the sign that explains the “Advanced Imaging Technology” and advised that travelers may opt out of the screening. I pointed at the sign and told the TSA agent that I would like to opt out.

He directed me to wait just next to the AIT scanner. He loudly announced to everyone else waiting and going through the scanner how little radiation there was and that it is completely safe and painless.

Paul spent 10 minutes waiting in the TSA timeout box. She finally asked an agent if she could be screened.

“We don’t have a female agent available right now for a pat down,” the agent replied.

“What about her?” Paul asked, pointing to an agent on the other side of the AIT who was waving everyone through.

“We’re short handed right now,” the agent insisted.

“What about him?” she asked, pointing to another agent at the metal detector, who was standing there, not doing anything.

“We’re short-staffed,” the agent repeated.

Paul waited another 10 minutes.

“Eventually, I couldn’t wait any longer without risking missing my flight and had to go through the AIT,” she says. “I guess if you have to stand around until it is time for your flight to leave eventually you will make the right decision.”

The right decision, according to the TSA, would be to avoid a retaliatory wait time and comply with the screening.

After all, it’s for your own safety — unless you have a little Pre-Check icon on your boarding pass or unless the “randomizer” chooses you to go through the metal detector.

The right decision, according to me and others, would be to politely tell the TSA agent “no thank you.” You don’t have to be an activist to know that the machines are easily foiled, unproven, possibly even dangerous.

If you ask me, the TSA has no business pressuring us into one of these machines. For some air travelers, the TSA’s “opt-out” policy could be viewed as a tricky way of getting us to step inside these poorly-tested machines. In other words, the policy (perhaps even the machines themselves) are a scam, in the broadest sense of the word.

But I acknowledge that there are some people out there who think these full-body scanners are a necessary layer of security and that without them terrorists would be blowing our planes out of the sky.

And that’s why we have today’s poll. Here you go.

Is the TSA's "opt-out" policy a scam?

View Results

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And by popular demand, here’s another poll about the headline on this story. I aim to please!

Is the headline in this article a "scam"?

View Results

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • BillCCC

    I have decided not to vote in any more polls when the word scam is used. That word is appearing way too often.

  • Kairho

    Agree. Scam means that something physical was taken from someone by fraudulent means. All that is lost here is time. It’s bad but not a “scam.”

  • sirwired

    Easily foiled? Yes.
    Unproven? Also yes.

    Dangerous? No. Though I suppose they might seem that way if you are the sort that freaks out at the very mention of the word “radiation”. (Which means something very different to an engnineer or scientist than somebody who reads too many hyperbolic articles on websites.)

    The physics involved here are not hard; it’s a brief bit of EM emissions in a fairly harmless band… you know, just like cell phones, the sun, etc. I wouldn’t want to stand right in the middle of one all day, every day, but otherwise they are harmless. (In a similar vein, walking from your car to the mall on a sunny day a few times a week is not going to give you skin cancer; baking in the sun at the beach every day is a bad idea.)

    They are not even remotely “possibly even dangerous” unless I suppose you slip on a proverbial banana peel inside of one. It’s silly to keep writing articles as if this is not a settled question.

  • omgstfualready

    I’m not sure how many times the word scam needs to be explained. The misuse of this term is disservice to your readers.

  • Richard Smith

    I am a little fortunate — I have an arm injury such that I can’t raise it within one of those damned machines, so I can’t use them. Instead, they send me through the metal detector.

    On a recent flight, this was a tremendous benefit. SFO Virgin America terminal, in front of me there was a couple, and the second person was “having problems” going through the machine. I went through the metal detector to find the first person attempting to steal my laptop. She refused to relinquish it, and when I loudly complained, she assaulted me.

    It’s a very standard scheme, block the person while your partner steals.

  • Stereoknob

    I don’t think “scam” is the right word here. Is the TSA opt-out policy an attempt at pressuring the public to just give in and do as their told, no questions asked? Yes. But a “scam”, I don’t think so. If it does what it was designed to do, even poorly, it’s not a scam. Scam = fraud no?

  • Stereoknob

    Wow, that’s horrendous! I can’t believe people actually try that stuff knowing there’s so many law enforcement officials and security cameras in close proximity.

  • Bob Davis

    The entire TSA is a scam.

  • Christopher Elliott

    The feature is called “Is this a scam”? and it appears every Wednesday. I’ve found that people use the word “scam” pretty loosely, at least around me. But no worries, participating in the poll is completely optional, although your vote will be missed.

  • Nathan Witt

    It should be pointed out that what the Federal Judge ruled about the no-fly list was that it violates your constitutional right to challenge your accuser. Since the no-fly list is created without disclosing the rationale for adding individuals, and since none of the mechanisms in place for you to challenge your inclusion on the list allow you to discover the government’s reasons for putting you on the list, the judge decided THAT was unconstitutional, not that you have some inalienable right to fly. At least, that’s what I think happened here. Maybe one of our resident Esquires can clarify if I’m wrong.

  • Christopher Elliott

    Yes, I’d love a legal opinion on the ruling. We do have a few lawyers who drop by ever now and then. Anyone?

  • omgstfualready

    yep. The constant misuse of that word will continue to dilute its meaning until it has none.


    Scam can join other words that are being misused and abused. And as for opt out, I do it most of the time and have never had the “retaliatory wait”. I have had significant spinal and pelvic surgery and the scar tissue always shows as an anomaly on the scanners. So I simply opt out and go on my way after a quick pat down. I do wait a couple minutes occasionally but not the long wait the OP claims to have had. I also do not spend time complaining about it because it is simply not all about me. And I do not consider the few times I have had to wait a scam.

  • Kerr

    I wouldn’t call it a scam. The better question is if TSA tries to get people to use the scanners by cajoling, embarrassing or shaming those that opt out.

    I opt out every time and the most I’ve ever waited was ~5 minutes, so a 20+ minute wait would be extreme. I normally go through security 10-15 minutes before boarding time, but if she was cutting it closer than that I could understand her anxiety.

  • Michael Lockard

    Chris: You can see the ruling and a few other tidbits under this article at the bottom:

    Keep up the great work on what you do. I read your site daily! I do not travel as often as I used to, but your site is a MUST read.

  • sirwired

    Just because you can’t find anything that even vaguely resembles a scam in time for your weekly feature doesn’t mean you should use the opportunity to write another anti-TSA post that has little to do with what the weekly feature is supposed to be about.

    You don’t like the TSA (I don’t like them particularly much either), and I think all of your readers understand that by now. It’s not necessary to remind your readers of this at every opportunity.

  • Nigel Appleby

    I think scam is a bit strong, but a headline is supposed to grab the attention and this one did. I also think that the TSA make things as difficult as possible for those who wish to opt out of any of their rout0ine procedu0res.

  • Moshe Leib

    I always opt out because of a medical condition that I have, I never
    waited more than couple minutes, the pat down was done correctly and
    respectfully, the procedure fully explained, no, it did not happened to
    me, ever. She should file a complaint with the TSA regarding her wait
    time, and the agent.

  • emanon256

    I voted no because I dont’ think its a scam. However, I do think its a joke, but it really depends on the quality of the agent. I have had many professional agents who immediately got me a pat down and sent me on my way. I have had other agents who yelled and argued loudly that I can’t opt out, or that the scanner is safe and then they intentionally delayed me. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the person. And when TSA only hires minimum wage workers with little education and little screening (Not sure if this is still the case) and the type of people who tend to “want” this job are people with power issues who want to control people, it because a perfect storm of incompetence and power trips.

  • shannonfla

    “I can’t lift my arms above my head.” That’s all you have to say and you get the metal detector. TSA agent at PHL told me that after a female agent on a power trip ignored another passenger and me for way too long. And I say ignored because when she came, 20 mins plus. over to do pat down first lady, she said the passenger wasn’t ready. Welll you’re instructed to wait at conveyor belt with your bags until an agent can perform pat down! Agent said she was taking too long to get her bags up or something.

  • emanon256

    I think CE gets plenty of true scams that he helps people with. But it makes for boring reading and no discussions.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I have to agree. The TSA could be doing everything they can to get people to use the new machines, including lying and misleading people. But that’s not a “scam.”

  • ShrimpBoy

    Everyone uses it these days. It’s one of Chris’ favorite terms.

  • ShrimpBoy

    Tilting against windmills. You want to change it, vote the idiots who installed it out. Oh, but its all the others in Congress, not your idiot. And you wonder why we still have the TSA?

  • Alan Gore

    This is why I actually prefer the automated body scanners to being probed up close and personal by agents. And…I get through faster.

  • Fishplate

    I never release my belongings on the belt until it’s my turn to go in the scanner/detector/groping line.

  • Rinacres

    TSA are not law enforcement officials. They have no authority to stop the theft; they just have intimidation.

  • omgstfualready

    Hmmmm, is purposefully using inaccurate words in order to create a salacious headline knowing it would increase ‘clicks’ on the article a scam? Where is that poll, lol.

  • Adam_The_Man

    People used to poke fun at me for calling everything a Scam. HAHAHAHA!!! Now someone says “Scam” more than I do!!!

  • Michelle M. Winner

    Point is not the semantics of the usage of the word ” scam” it is that if TSA offers a choice, her choice should have been respected and facilitated.

  • Adam_The_Man

    I’ve posted about this before when Wednesday was TSA day here. My brother works for the TSA. He has a criminal record and now a GED. No one would hire him, except the TSA. They do pay more than minimum wage. But it was the only job he could get with a criminal record. At least he makes a living now and got his own place. he used to just live and home and do drugs.

  • Adam_The_Man

    TSA could have been in on it.

  • Miami510

    This has become a discussion of semantics and not the actual intent of the essay. Scam in the Thesaurus is: loophole, ambiguity, excuse, or dodge, and certainly, in my
    opinion, what TSA is doing would fall under one of those descriptions.

    Another thought: If the purposeful delay by TSA is to coerce, pressure, compel, bully or persuade you to go through the scanner by means of intimidation, then it is a ruse… which
    can fall under the broad definition of “scam.”

    Call it what you wish, but it’s not nice and not the forthright demeanor we expect from a government agency.

  • Vec14

    I am not surprised this happened in Phoenix – it’s my home airport and the TSA there seems to be overly aggressive. I had something similar happen to me – waiting for a patdown for a very long period – I finally told one of the TSA clerks standing around I was going to file a police report for unlawful detainment – Phoenix police were nearby – and got sent through the metal detector. As a petite female, they seem to think I’d be someone who caves quickly.

  • DavidYoung2

    When things don’t make logical sense, then I smell a scam. And the OP’s post doesn’t make logical sense.

    In the post, the OP supposedly asks ‘what about him’ regarding a TSA agent ‘who was standing there, doing nothing.’ The OP says the TSA agent responded that they are ‘short staffed.’

    Hold on buck-a-roo. Didn’t the original TSA agent tell the OP they ‘didn’t have a female agent available.’ Why, yes they did. So the OP knows that ONLY female TSA agents pat down female passengers. So why would this female passenger request a pat-down from a MALE TSA agent? That makes no sense.

    And the supposed response makes no sense. The logical response would be, “Sorry ma’am, male agents are not allowed to pat down female passengers,” not “we are short staffed.”

    So two things in the OP’s story don’t make sense. Yeah, I DO smell a scam, and maybe Chris is the victim….

  • Christopher Elliott

    I added the poll. I’m sorry for the oversight.

  • Frank Windows

    I disagree. More and more people are getting “pre-check” access, a face-saving way for TSA to reduce (and, one hopes, eventually eliminate) the nude-o-scopes. Pressure from widely-read advocates like Mr. Elliott are a big part of that. Were it not for web sites like this one, I wouldn’t have known about my option to opt-out, or about the dodgy science behind these machines.

    Imagine if someone told Martin Luther King, “We get it, you’re opposed to segregation, I think all of your listeners understand that by now. It’s not necessary to remind them at every opportunity.” I’m not saying Pistole is Wallace, but as long as the TSA is violating our Constitutional rights, wasting our tax money, and providing the image of security instead of *actual* security, people need to speak out.

    Go, Chris, go!

  • omgstfualready

    Edited to add, no it isn’t any more of a scam than most of the other uses of the word scam……………….

  • Nichole

    I think she meant that the male TSA agent could cover whatever the female agent was doing so the female agent could complete the pat-down

  • BillCCC

    I still won’t vote :)

  • sunshipballoons

    I often disagree with Chris’s use of the word “scam.” But, if the TSA opt-out policy is effectively totally fake (e.g., you can expect miss your flight if you opt out), I would say it is a scam. However, this anecdotal story doesn’t persuade me of anything. My wife and I opt out, so I tend to wait with the opt-out people. I’ve never waited more than a couple of minutes, nor heard of anything like this situation before. So, I don’t think it’s as came. But if this story were the typical situation, then it would be.

  • emanon256

    So the people who are responsible for our safety are drug using criminals? No offense to your brother, but I do mean offense to the TSA as a whole an their practices.

  • emanon256

    When I was flying every single week and always opted out, I got argued with or told I couldn’t opt-out probably 20% of the time, and was detained an extended period about 10% of the time. It all depended on the particular person I got that day. It got to the point where I know who would argue with me and who would detain me and woudl pick lines accordingly, thoguh the staff often moved around after I picked a line. My official complaints never changed anything.

  • DesignIt

    TSA is a scam.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Oh, I am SO happy that you of all people pointed that out.

  • Christopher Elliott

    I’ve been subjected to a retaliatory wait time before, but it only happened once. I told the TSA agent I had all the time in the world, and after about 20 minutes, they decided to provide a “male assist” for a pat down.

    Speaking of pat-downs, the one I had at LaGuardia yesterday was only slightly better than a visit to the proctologist’s. The agent slammed into my testicles several times with a considerable amount of force. My voice is an octave higher today.

  • sirwired

    I think a few less people might have listened to MLK if he was scheduled to deliver a speech about one thing, and completely ignored that to repeat his main talking points.
    If Chris wants to write articles about the TSA, fine. But that doesn’t mean he needs to convert things that have nothing to do with the TSA into an angle on that issue.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    It’s worth repeating … never mess with a flight attendant or a TSA guy.

  • omgstfualready

    Or always do……..everyone always messing with them will spur the change.

  • LonnieC

    Okay. Miriam Webster’s defines “scam” as “a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation”. Perhaps simplistic, but that’s what it says. It would seem that (a) moving people who opt out of a scanner into (b) a position where they may have to wait long enough to miss a flight in order to (c) subtly coerce them into using that scanner would, in the broadest sense, fit within that definition. Anyway, why argue about Chris’ definition, when it’s the activity of the TSA which is most worthy of discussion and condemnation?

  • Mark Carrara

    The ability to fly without being scanned is not a right I have found in the constitution. If you don’t like the scanning, or other treatment, then do like I do, avoid flying.

  • lcpossum

    On the contrary “scam” was used correctly with regard to my last experience with screening. I also “opted out” and had to wait 35 minutes for the pat down all while TSA was giving my carryon and laptop special treatment. They banged the corner of the laptop where the backup drive plugs in and now it doesn’t plug anymore. So, yes, something physical was taken from me by fraudulent means.

  • lcpossum

    Oh? And male agents aren’t allowed to replace the female who was waving people through so that she could conduct the pat down? Makes perfect sense.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    If the OP had been a male, then there would have been little excuse to not get an immediate patdown. That said, I wonder if the OP wrote the TSA to complain that there was a shortage of qualified agents to administer a female pat down? The notion that “short staffing” allows a TSA agent to keep someone waiting due to a gender policy sounds like bad planning/management on the part of the head agent at the desk.

    Something like this happens? GET NAMES. If they’re wearing their ID’s out where you can see them, quietly note the name of the at least one of the agents. Get the screening location down in your head and time so that the schedule can be referred to later by management. Then get out of there and WRITE A LETTER.

    If you’re not happy with the response? Then ESCALATE. Write to their manager or director if you can find it. Can’t find anyone? Then write your congress person’s office. State that the TSA is effectively nullifying the policy by claiming staff shortages.

    Hmmm, this sounds pretty familiar such as, say, the VA crisis. That was supposedly caused by a “funding shortage”. IRS losing emails? Not enough money for IT. Can any of us use “funding shortages” to say we couldn’t afford to bring our ID to the airport? If they have a legitimate funding shortage, it’s THEIR duty and obligation to bring it to the attention of their superiors rather than tolerating a crisis.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Query: What official complaints did you make? Just a note to the contacts section in the TSA website? Did you get a response?

    If I was traveling that often and dealing with this, I’d check tracking numbers to see if my complaint got an official response. I’d have names. I’d be sending notes to my congressman. And then from there, to the local media with a note CC’d to the congressman and TSA.

  • sunshipballoons

    Right. I totally don’t doubt that retaliatory responses to opt-outs happen. I just doubt that they happen so often as to render the opt-out system a scam.

  • MissFitz88

    Thank you for changing the pictures back Chris. Your site looks fantastic.

  • emanon256

    Each time I sent both an e-mail and a written letter citing airport, checkpoint, lane, names of those I was able to get, time and dates etc. I typically got the exact same form response each time.

  • EvilEmpryss

    Really?!? I didn’t know that! I’m disabled and honestly *can’t* raise one of my arms over my head. I opt out as a matter of course, but this would make it a “legitimate” reason and I wouldn’t be seen as a troublemaker. Well, I would hope not, at least. It’s sad that people exercising their lawful choice are considered troublemakers. :(

  • shannonfla

    Exactly. One TSA agent asked me why I opted out and was it because of the machines because they’re totally safe. I think she was surprised when I replied that I believe it goes against the 4th amendment

  • shannonfla

    Also, I’m a little confused that this lady says she went through metal detector after it took too long to get an agent to do pat down. One time when I was waiting long it was getting very close to boarding time. I said I would just go through the machine but an agent told me that is not allowed once you elect for a pat down. Is this another case of TSA agents not all knowing the rules which is known to happen, or does something not add up in the OP story?

  • shannonfla

    I object to unreasonable searches, and like CE states, the machines aren’t 100% proven, as evidenced by earlier machines which produced basically nude photos, even if your privacy was supposedly protected. As if!

  • shannonfla

    It’s fishy to me that she says she gets to go through AIT after electing a pat down, which I was told by TSA agent when it was getting late to make my plane isn’t allowed once you elect pat down.

  • llandyw

    I had a trip back in November from ATL to Austin. On the way out, had precheck and went through the metal detector. On the way back however, no such luck (with some new rules, I’ll always get precheck from now on). Anyway, I did opt out. I don’t think I was waiting more than 5 minutes before they had someone come to do the pat-down.

    I think it has a lot to do with the people working the airport. Some are fine with opt-outs, others not so good.

    Then again, I had over 2 hours before boarding, so maybe they thought keeping me waiting wouldn’t change my opting out.

  • Cybrsk8r

    But it isn’t. If you think the scanners are totally safe, Perhaps you could answer this one question. The nuclear science departments of about a half dozen universities offered to do impartial measurements of the radiation exposure. Every single request was turned down. Why?

  • sirwired

    Yes, I can answer that one question! Thanks for asking!

    I can guess they offered to do impartial measurements of the now-discontinued x-ray backscatter machines which are no longer in use. A nuclear medicine department (which only deals with ionizing radiation, such as x-rays or gamma rays, with a wavelength measured in NANO (10 -9) meters and below) would not have the equipment to measure the emissions from MILLI (10 -3) meter-wave machines that are currently in use; that would probably be the Electrical Engineering dept., who would use such equipment to check antenna performance for wireless communication gear.

    Because those frequencies do not effect tissue (other than to measurably heat it if you use very high wattage), milimeter-wave-type equipment is useless in nuclear medicine (the frequency is too low); if you need to look at the skin, you ask the patient to take off their clothes (although I suppose if you were really shy in front of your doctor, you could ask for a trip to the airport :-) These frequencies ARE used in medicine, but they aren’t used by the nuclear medicine dept.; they are used by plain ‘ol surgeons, which take advantage of their heating ability (and non-penetration of tissue) and use it in electrosurgery equipment to cauterize blood vessels via simple heat. I think if the TSA was using wattages that high, somebody would notice when sparks started flying from their earrings during a scan like somebody putting a fork in the microwave.

    To give you a sense of scale here… millimeter-wave EMF is at the high-end of the radio spectrum, just short of infra-red; ionizing radiation (which starts at high UV) is 3-4 whole orders of magnitude away on the spectrum (on the whole other side of visible light). Doctors generally work 6 orders of magnitude away.

    Again; this is basic 2nd-semester Intro to Physics here… just because the TSA buys machines that emit it, millimeter-length EM radiation does not magically ionize tissue that normally requires radiation on the OTHER side of the visible spectrum. As in; a 1W LED flashlight from Dollar Tree emits radiation several orders of magnitude MORE penetrating than anything the TSA can dish out.

  • Jane

    I try to stand as far from the machine as possible (inverse square rule, after all). If I think they are keeping me waiting, I talk to the other passengers. “Oh, go ahead into the radiation machine. I’m waiting here to be groped.” I try to say it fairly loudly. When they try to talk to me about the radiation, I cite a paper from the University of California about their concern about all radiation going to the skin, and express my concern that the TSA agents here aren’t wearing dosimeters like the radiologist do, so they know what dosage they’re taking from outside the machine. I’m not sure whether or not it helps but it passes the time.

  • Mairi

    What is with you people who are certain everyone employed by the TSA wakes up every morning thinking of nothing but your nekked butt?

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    The whole TSA is one big joke. Someone is making billions out of it & it does absolutely positively NOTHING for security.
    If a terrorist wants to take down a plane, it’s incredibly easy & they don’t have to go into an airport to do it.

  • jim6555

    I’ve never been pressured by a TSA agent to go through a scanner. Each time that I’ve opted out, I have been treated courteously and have been groped without delay. Had the question dealt with scanners themselves being part of the scam to make you think that the TSA charade at the airport is keeping you safe, I would have answered “yes”.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    What is with you people who are certain everyone employed by the TSA is keeping you safe by criminally touching people in wheelchairs?

  • TestJeff Pierce

    Technically, the GeTSApo may use a different gender agent ,if short-staffed, for the criminal touching pat downs.

    I have often wondered why they didn’t offer female agents for gay men (and vice-versa for gay women) who might feel uncomfortable – the main reason the GeTSApo claims they do same-gender agents for its criminal touching pat downs if at all possible.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    The scanners are almost as harmless as not using them, since it has been over 52 years – that is HALF A CENTURY – since the last fatality caused by a passenger with a working non-metallic bomb (sole reason for scanners and criminal pat downs) on a US domestic flight.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    By the definition, I would agree that purposely increasing a wait time becomes a deceptive act.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    Simply put: No one in government gives a crap.

    Congress doesn’t. The President doesn’t – he laughed about “pat downs” in his 2011 State of the Union speech. The GeTSApo certainly doesn’t care. Scalia (of the Supreme Court) doesn’t care based on his recent statement that “we put up with airport security” as a defense of certain searches. Many scared, apologist citizens don’t care.

    Unconstitutional scanners still exist and criminal touching pat downs exist, even though breast cancer patients and dying cancer victims have been assaulted, as has a quadriplegic war veteran.

    Your suggestions are the obvious thing to do, and should be done, but it won’t change anything. Osama Bin Laden’s victory created the country of Homeland – a fearful place, filled with many gutless people. I have doubts that Americans can reclaim their country.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    Nothing like profiling those with a medical condition for criminal touching pat downs.

    Here’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: The government increases healthcare, more people get medical procedures which causes more medical conditions, so more passengers can get coercive criminal touching pat downs. Because, you know, that is what we do in free countries.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    The ACLU spent the equivalent of $2 million dollars of legal time on the case; you can google their own discussion.

    I would highly recommend googling “The Identity Project” to see my favorite legal analysis and reporting. Here is link to “Day 2” Trial reporting.

    Ed Hasbrouck is the author. Freedom To Travel USA leaders (of which I am one, full disclosure) met him at the Redfern vs DHS trial where we gave oral arguments granted to us based on our amicus brief submitted in that particular case.

    The recent commentary was that the DHS needs to have a procedure to challenge the No-Fly list if you are on it. However, Ed Hasbrouck has impeccable research and legal analysis from several angles.

    I would leave readers too lazy to read (very easy to read, not overly scholarly) to consider Ed’s observation from a recent book that, and I paraphrase, “The hallmark of an authoritarian state is to deny travel to its citizens.” He points out that EVERY PASSENGER ON EVERY US COMMERCIAL FLIGHT…must ABSOLUTELY be granted permission to fly within the United States.

    Think about it: Chris, you, me, other readers of Chris’s web site….whenever we take a flight, it is ABSOLUTELY TRUE that the US government evaluated whether we could take the flight, and then made a decision to allow us to board the plane. The fact that most of us are allowed does NOT mitigate the fact that the United States government is making a decision without any due process on your travel plans within your country.

  • RonBonner

    There are numerous scams involving TSA.

    TSA’s use of twisted or just plain not true statements. If TSA said it i’ts probably a lie.

    TSA dressing up the screener force in fake cop like uniforms complete with fake cop badges. TSA screeners have no police powers.

    The disposal of items deemed so dangerous that they can’t go beyond the checkpoint but safe enough to toss into common trash bins right at the checkpoint. Is that how you would handle potential explosives?

    TSA’s Behavior Detection Officers who have been proven by GAO to do no better than a group of people guessing.

    Perhaps one of the biggest scams is how TSA electronically strip searches, gropes, and otherwise unjustly harasses travelers while allowing airport workers to waltz right in without any security screening of any kind.

    I suggest that TSA is a SCAM!

  • DavidYoung2

    What? Your comments about equating Americans doing a job you don’t like with the gestapo, and your comments about gays, is absolutely disgusting.

  • IGoEverywhere

    You and I both agree that the Government does not care enough on what TSA does to travelers. It “is” my right to enjoy travel, but I have to take a Valium to get calmed down for TSA’s overly aggressive agents. It would be so nice to have a contant program.

  • Mairi

    What does that have to do with the obsession that everyone is just dying to see and grope our naked bodies? Whatever you think of the role of the TSA, I bet very few of their employees get excited about spending all day looking at the the average American’s saggy backside.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    I think that the people who want to debate the definition of the word “scam” don’t have enough to do.

  • Stereoknob

    Didn’t say TSA but thanks for putting those words in there for me.

  • TestJeff Pierce

    1) The TSA shares a characteristic with the similar-sounding organization from the 1930s and 1940s. Both are responsible for protecting the domestic territory from foreign agents. They share the same mission. Heck, today they are part of “Homeland” security which is eerily similar to protecting the “Fatherland”.

    2) I was commenting in favor of gay passengers, who are discriminated against by only getting same-gender pat downs no matter how uncomfortable they may feel about the screener. The reason heterosexuals get an opposite gender patdown is that some passengers may feel uncomfortable being touched on their private parts by someone who may have a sexual arousal from touching the passenger. And

    A gay passenger may not know if their screener is gay, but they may have less concern from a straight or gay opposite sex screener.

  • BMG4ME

    The second question is a scam because today the title was accurate and your heading was not a scam so the second question did not have an accurate answer! Anyway yes it is a scam because it’s not opting out, it’s opting in to disrespectful treatment. Thankfully I don’t have to deal that any more now that I have opted in to TSA Pre.