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Air travelers bristle at new security measures

November 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Less than a week before Thanksgiving and the holiday travel season is under way. The only thing slowing people down are controversial new airport security rules. The Transportation Security Administration says pilots no longer have to go through those full-body scanners or enhanced pat-downs. Children are catching a break as well. The rest of us could still be picked for one of two controversial security measures.

With Thanksgiving just days away, airports are bracing for one of the busiest travel times of the year. With several hundred full-body scanners deployed throughout the country and teams of TSA agents conducting enhanced pat-downs, passengers are bracing as well.

Full-body scanner images are infuriating some travelers. Those who refuse the scans are now forced to submit to enhanced pat-downs of their breasts and between their legs, which some equate to sexual assault. More than 600 complaints have been filed with the American Civil Liberties Union just this month.

The outcry has spread quickly across the country and there are even organized protests planned for the day before Thanksgiving, asking all travelers to refuse the full-body scanners and force TSA agents to use the slower, more labor-intensive pat-downs, but the TSA is refusing to back down.

"Do I understand the sensitivities of people? Yes. If you are asking if I am going to change the policies, no," said TSA Administrator John Pistole.

The TSA has begun exempting children younger than 12 from the enhanced pat-downs but airport officials in Orlando have had enough. They may soon do away with all TSA agents and hire a private security company to do the work there.

"More local control, more response to complaints, more review, more accountability, better efficiency," said Sanford Airport Authority President Larry Dale.

Even private company security agents would have to abide by the TSA rules, which means at Los Angeles International Airport they would still have to use full-body scanners or enhanced pat-downs.

Friday two Congressmen wrote to the TSA saying only high-risk passengers should be forced to undergo those pat-downs. They say treating everyone like a terrorist is a waste of money and resources.


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