today’s fliers, this has become an imminent, embarrassing and confrontational element of air travel – not to mention an alarming health concern for frequent fliers.
Since their widespread implementation, when given choice between going through a metal detector or the body scanner, the vast majority of fliers would much rather wait in long lines for the metal detector than voluntarily opt to go through the body scanner. Within the first 12 months of deployment, TSA agents were initially trained to reassure passengers that the scanners are safe and preferable and coax them into trusting them, to little effect. Now, however, TSA agents have observably become far more belligerent in pressuring passengers to use the scanners – and it has become common practice to “randomly” select passengers to either go through the scanner or “opt out”. Many have testified that when they told the TSA agent that they wished to opt out, immediately the agent would loudly announce “OPT OUT!” with the other agents immediately repeating “OPT OUT!” in the same manner – causing a sense of embarrassment and intimidation in the passenger.
They are then led to an area (many have testified that this area in most airports is in plain view of most or all other passengers in the security zone) where they are put through a highly invasive body search that, should any normal citizen impose upon any other citizen, would legally qualify as molestation. If a passenger refuses to submit to this search, they are often verbally threatened and immediately treated as a terrorist suspect. This has produced a flood of complaints and an astounding number of reported cases of TSA agent mistreatment and abuse of passengers, many such situations reportedly being highly traumatic. In the least egregious cases, they are forbidden to board the plane, threatened to be fined $10,000 and then escorted out of the airport 8. In some of the most egregious cases, they are thrown to the floor and cuffed, or cuffed to a chair, verbally and/or physically accosted, have their flight tickets torn up, and purposefully made a spectacle of. One victim of such treatment, Meg McLain, dared to ask the TSA agents whether or not these full-body pat-downs would traumatize victims of sex crimes, and that “every answer they gave me was basically ‘it’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s about the greater good.’” 9
One of the most frequent complaints is that of attractive, large-breasted women overwhelmingly being “randomly” selected for the full-body scanner, then subjected to an overly-vigorous body search. One high profile case was when Susie Castillo, who was crowned Miss USA in 2003, was singled out for the body scanner on April 27th, 2011 in Dallas, TX. She opted out and then submitted to the pat-down. In her own words (emphasis interpreted from source) 10:
“I’m sure this woman was just doing her job, but– she, I mean she actually felt– touched my vagina. And so I think that’s why I’m crying, that’s why I’m so emotional, because I’m already so upset that they’re making me go, they’re making me do this, they’re making me choose, to either get molested, ‘cause that’s what I feel like, and, or go through this machine that’s completely unhealthy and dangerous, and I don’t want to go through it.