Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TSA, Nudity and an Act of Protest

With the recent trip I took, I had another TSA experience and I'm happy to report that overall, things went fine. Happy to give credit where credit is due, as I have done in the past.

I found their conduct at EWR to be professional and routine. Flying out of Charlotte, I also found the TSA professional and did not receive any argument from them when I opted out of the body scanners to receive a pat-down, as they were only running them and not the magnetometers. They may have taken their time in sending someone over to pat me down, and I may have had to go through it twice (My flight got cancelled after I went through security. Second experience was better, as the Transportation Services Agent who patted me down didn't act like he was inconvenienced.) but this experience was less stressful than a previously contentious experience. While I still think the TSA needs to revamp the way they provide security to travelers, I am pleased to see an improvement in customer service/interpersonal skills.

As I have stated in the past, I have a problem with the body scanners/AITs that they use, mostly for health concerns, and I'm not the only one who has concerns. A few months ago, a man was arrested at Portland International Airport for stripping naked at the TSA Checkpoint when he was to be patted down and charged with indecent exposure. While I will opt to be patted down publicly, I'm not going to do so in my birthday suit. What I found interesting about this case is that John Brennan, the man arrested, was found not guilty, as his nudity in front of the TSA was seen as an act of protest and protected under the First Amendment.

I find this case a groundbreaking indictment of the TSA and airport security. Furthermore, I'm very surprised to see that this case has not received more attention, and while I'm not encouraging travelers to strip naked, this should be a wakeup call to the Federal Government and TSA to make some changes at American airports that make travels secure, while at the same time, not allowing the security checkpoint to be an anxiety filled moment for law-abiding citizens.

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