New TSA pat-down technique criticized

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A passenger rights group called on the Transportation Security Administration to put an end to its new, more aggressive pat-down search technique at airports.

The Assn. for Airline Passenger Rights, a nonprofit group based in Washington, called the new technique ‘flawed and intrusive.’


‘TSA has a history of being a day late and a dollar short on its security measures, and unfortunately their new aggressive pat-down searches are in keeping with that history,’ Brandon M. Macsata, executive director of the association, said in a statement.

In the past, TSA screening officers used the back of their hands to brush past sensitive body parts, including the breasts, genitals and buttocks. Under the new technique begun a week ago, screening officers at airports across the country can use their fingers and palms to probe and feel around such areas for weapons and contraband hidden under clothing.

Macsata said the new technique violates the privacy rights of passengers but does little to improve security.

Last week, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union also criticized the new technique, comparing it to a ‘grope.’

In a statement posted on the TSA website Oct. 28, the agency said the new pat-down procedure is among an’unpredictable mix of security layers’ that passengers should expect at airports.

The other security techniques cited by the TSA include explosives trace detection, full-body imaging machines and canine teams.

Hugo Martin

(Photo: A TSA screening officer searches a passenger at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Source: AP)