Poll: More Support For Scanners Than Pat-Downs

NEW YORK (AP/CBS 2) — Despite tough talk on the Internet, there was little if any indication of a passenger revolt at many major U.S. airports, with very few people declining the X-ray scan that can peer through their clothes. Those who refuse the machines are subject to a pat-down search that includes the crotch and chest.

Many travelers said that the scans and the pat-down were not much of an inconvenience, and that the stepped-up measures made them feel safer and were, in any case, unavoidable.

“Whatever keeps the country safe, I just don’t have a problem with,” Leah Martin, 50, of Houston, said as she waited Monday to go through security at the Atlanta airport.

At LaGuardia Airport early Tuesday, Jeannine St. Amand got a pat-down in front of her husband and two children. The 45-year-old from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, figured she got one because the underwire of her bra tripped the metal detector.

“It’s hard to remember all the restrictions. Next time, I’ll wear a different bra,” she said.

She opted to have the pat-down in public rather than private and said it was professional and done by a female agent.

“She tells you ahead of time what she is going to do, which is a good thing because that could be awkward,” St. Amand said.

Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole pleaded with Thanksgiving travelers for understanding and urged them not to boycott full-body scans on Wednesday. It would only snarl what is already one of the busiest, most stressful flying days of the and would only “tie up people who want to go home and see their loved ones,” he said.

“We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary,” he said, “but that just isn’t the case.”

He noted the alleged attempt by a Nigerian with explosives in his underwear to bring down a plane over Detroit last Christmas.

About two-thirds of Americans support using the full-body scanners to increase security, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Tuesday. But half of the 514 adults surveyed by phone said the more rigorous pat-downs go too far.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Gehno Sanchez, a 38-year-old from San Francisco who works in marketing, said he doesn’t mind the full-body scans. “I mean, they may make you feel like a criminal for a minute, but I’d rather do that than someone touching me,” he said.

A loosely organized Internet campaign is urging people to refuse the scans on Wednesday in what is being called National Opt-Out Day. The extra time needed to pat down people could cause a cascade of delays at dozens of major airports, including those in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.

“Just one or two recalcitrant passengers at an airport is all it takes to cause huge delays,” said Paul Ruden, a spokesman for the American Society of Travel Agents, which has warned its more than 8,000 members about delays. “It doesn’t take much to mess things up anyway.”

Most who don’t like the screenings just grumble but don’t really cause a big fuss, at least not that Cris Soulia, a TSA officer in San Diego and president of a local union, has heard or seen.

‘We’re not here groping people. We’re not here molesting people. We’re checking them for items and explosives. And yes, explosives can be hidden in the groin area,” she said.

More than 400 imaging units are being used at about 70 airports. Since the new procedures began Nov. 1, 34 million travelers have gone through checkpoints and less than 3 percent are patted down, according to the TSA.

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs said the government is “desperately” trying to balance security and privacy and will take the public’s concerns and complaints into account as it evaluates the new, more stringent boarding checks.

The American Civil Liberties Union has received more than 600 complaints over three weeks from passengers who say they were subjected to humiliating pat-downs at U.S. airports, and the pace is accelerating, according to ACLU legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese.

“It really drives home how invasive it is and unhappy they are,” he said.

Ricky D. McCoy, a TSA screener and president of a union local in Illinois and Wisconsin, said the atmosphere has changed in the past two weeks for officers in his region. Since word of the pat-downs hit the headlines, officers have been punched, pushed or shoved six times after they explained what would be happening, McCoy said.

“We have major problems because basically TSA never educated the public on what was going on,” he said. “Our agency pretty much just threw the new search techniques out there.”

Stories of alleged heavy-handed treatment by TSA agents captured people’s imagination.

A bladder cancer survivor from Michigan who wears a bag that collects his urine said its contents spilled on his clothing after a security agent at a Detroit airport patted him down roughly.

Tom Sawyer, a 61-year-old retired special education teacher, said the Nov. 7 experience left him in tears. “I was absolutely humiliated. I couldn’t even speak,” he told MSNBC.com.

During an appearance on CBS, the TSA’s Pistole expressed “great concern over anybody who feels like they have not been treated properly or had something embarrassing” happen.

A video showing a shirtless young boy resisting a pat-down at Salt Lake City’s airport has become a YouTube sensation and led to demands for an investigation from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, an outspoken critic of TSA screening methods. The video of the unidentified boy was shot Friday by a bystander with a cell phone.

The TSA said in a blog posting that nobody has to disrobe at an airport checkpoint apart from removing shoes and jackets. According to the TSA, the boy was being searched because he triggered an alarm inside a metal detector, and his father removed the youngster’s shirt to speed up the screening.

The boycott campaign was launched Nov. 8 by Brian Sodergren, who lives in Ashburn, Va., and works in the health care industry.

“I just don’t think the government has the right to look under people’s clothes with no reasonable cause, no suspicion other than purchasing a plane ticket,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • Ruth Belmonte

    These people that take part in this so call “boycott” should be arrested. This kind of chaos at the airport, at such a busy time could give terrorist the opportunity to bring harm to an entire airplane full of people. We should be thankful, especially at this Holiday, that there is a crew and the technology out there to protect us… or at least give it a real try. We have our loved ones over there risking their lives, fighting this war on terrorism; I think we can put up with some inconveniences to assure our safety.

    • RAy c

      There is no justification for what amounts to these illegal searches and a clear violation of our 4th amendment rights. Has it occurred to you that our loved ones are risking their lives in the war on terror to protect those freedoms?
      If we choose to allow our constitutional rights to be abrogated here at home, we render their service effectively meaningless.
      Those citizens that are willing to sacrifice their hard won freedoms for the appearance of greater safety deserve neither freedom nor safety.
      Do you really want to live in a society where legal resistance to illegal government sponsored searches is met by arrest? If so, you would probably enjoy living in PRC.

  • lin

    those scanners will give you cancer and the govt knows it.

  • StormsNYC

    The problem is that America’s security model is reactionary instead of robust and proactive. We are not take an intelligent look at how to properly and effectively implement security, we are reacting to botched attempts and threats as they come. This is what happens when you let beaucrats solve problems, they ask for more money instead of actually thinking about real solutions.

  • Mike

    Here’s the question I have yet to hear answered. I travel for work, it’s not a choice it’s a requirement. I have to fly, it’s the only way to get where I need to be. So my choices are subject myself to x-rays that that nobody can say are safe. Remember all the assurances that ground zero was safe after durning the clean-up? Anyone see how much the government had to pay out for that lie? Or be groped by a ‘trained professional’.

    I am expected to do that to what end? To make sure I’m not smuggling weapons, bombs or knives etc.. on a plane? If that’st he case, then why in the world, am I handed a knife, fork and crystal glass with my breakfast in first class? I’m not talking about plastic, but metal utensils. Are they steak knives, no but they damn sure will cut, and if they don’t, all a terrorist has to do is break his crystal glass, instand razor blade.

    So if the reason I’m getting cancer, or am groped, is because it makes Ma and Pa kettle in Iowa, ‘feel’ safer, you can keep it!

    And as another note, how safe do Ma and Pa feel knowing that all the people sitting around them have been strip searched, but they still may be sitting on a bomb, because the cargo that the plane is carrying, outside of suitcases, has not even been given a second look.

    Food for thought.

  • frank

    good citizens dont complain–they obey!

    Yes, master. yes, master. please protect me master. iĺl do anything you say, master.

  • stu

    Amsterdam Schipol Airport uses profilers….

  • MINA

    Would the Republicans and Tea Party wackos be so upset about the TSA pat-downs and the backscatter machines if one of their darlings (Bush, Palin) was President right now? I think they are suffering from Sour Grapes Syndrome!

  • La La Land at TSA

    Don’t worry. These brand spanking new scanners are harmless. They don’t use those nasty radiation thingies. The TSA has assured us that they only use Magic Light for these machines.

    Magic Lights don’t do any harm.

    Now don’t you just feel silly?

  • Gregg

    Profile Profile Profile ! Why not use trained dogs ? The dogs would also be able to identify if an explosive is in a body cavity ! Also, get better trained personal ( former Law Enforcement, Military etc.) Have you seen some of the TSA scanning personal ? A joke ! This appears to be a hugh money maker for RapidScan ! Must have had a great lobbyist in DC !

    • Reality

      The cost to hire trained personnel would kill the airline industry.

      • Aria

        The cost of airport security is not paid by the airlines — the TSA is a FEDERAL AGENCY. Why are you people always blaming the airlines? Get your facts straight before you post!

  • MissJusticeNY

    Here’s the thing. We live in a world where terrorists are targeting us, especially our airports. I understand how this makes people uneasy, but there really aren’t any other options. I’d rather be pat down than blown up, but I guess that’s just me. If people don’t agree with these scanners and pat downs, they don’t have to fly then.

    • Mike

      What about people that do ‘have’ to fly for their jobs. I go through the scanners at least once a week. If you get more than a couple of xrays at a dr. office they get nervous.

      And when I fly first class, I get metal utensils to eat with, knive and forks etc.., sound like weapons to me, and if they dont work, maybe just break the crystal glass and use it as a blade.

      Lastly, even though the passengers are all snug as a bug in a rug, they are sitting on top of potential bombs. The cargo that passenger jets carry is rarely even looked at twice.

      I dont mind security if it does something, but to be that intrusive, just to make a nice show, is rediculous.

      I can make everyone safe on a plan, submit to a cavity search and fly naked. By the mentality of whatever it takes to be safe, that would be fine right? Of course not. Where do we draw the line? Right where it was. Go through the metal detector, and get a normal pat down if there’s; trouble.

      You dont need to xray my intestines to make sure I’m OK to fly.

      But sheep as sheep do.

    • Michael H.

      If the terrorists were “targeting out airports” they’d be detonating themselves while waiting in line to get through security. You can take out way more people that way than if they made it onto a plane, and they could use more explosives too, since they don’t have to try as hard to hide it.

      There is only one reason for all this. Theater. It makes you feel safer, but in reality, you’re no safer than you were before. The odds of you dying in a terrorist attack are miniscule at best, yet I’ll bet you are willing to get behind the wheel of a car and drive around every day, which statistically is far more dangerous.

      This whole “I just want to be safe” is a load of bull—-.

      • Bob

        I couldn’t agree more. This is “security theater”…nothing more. Has the TSA ever actually found a genuine terrorist? No, huh? How about one time intercepting all of the “test” items put through by the FBI or GSA every few months? Again, nope. Something always gets through.

        We are no safer. The scans, the pat downs, shoes off, no liquids, even the eventual body-cavity searches are knee jerk reactions to what has happened in the past. What will the next method of terror be? You can be assured that the TSA has no clue.

        It’s time to Israelify our airports. PROFILE!!! Common sense tells you that a 7 yo white girl is not terrorist, nor is her 85-yo gray haired granny. Time to stop protecting the civil liberties of terrorists and start protecting ours.

  • Jimmy

    Well of course. don’t you think the company that makes the scanners are pushing to make the pat downs as uncomfortable as possible. They have a lot to lose.

  • guest

    BS poll.. Chose one or other is not a poll; where was the question to remove them both in poll.

  • Vin

    All these people that don’t have a problem with body scanners or pat downs, do any of them have kids or would answer the same way if their VERY young child was subjected to a pat down? Ask them again and see what they say — hypocrites!!! No child of mine is going through a unsafe body scanner (until someone tells us otherwise that they’re safe “healthwise”) much less a pat down by some TSA robo-cop. Mess with my klid, you mess with me!

  • Barry Bummer

    The scanners use waves in the Terahertz frequency, which have caused lesions in laboratory animals. At the same time, there have been no human trials or studies confirming their safety. Meanwhile, it is known that former Homeland Security Chief Chertov has a stake in the companies that market these devices. Do you really believe the government would not lie to you about the safety of these machines? Are you willing to be the subject of an experiment; or the victimn og government stupidity and ignorance? My family and I will not be lab rats!

    • Mike Bloomberg


      Solution: Take the bus.

  • Hero

    About two-thirds of Americans support using the full-body scanners to increase security, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Tuesday. But half of the 514 adults surveyed by phone said the more rigorous pat-downs go too far. Where is this pull located? Want to see the results and the people that were being polled.

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