Transportation SecurityAdministration (TSA) agents are about to get a little more up-close and personalwith airline passengers starting Thursday. The TSA has announced it will supplement its infamous pat down search with asearch that allows agents to slide their hands over passengers.Whereas in the traditional search TSA officers would pat down passengers withthe backs of their hands, the new search procedure lets them use the fronts oftheir hands in a sliding motion.The new procedure also allows TSA agents to search body parts that werepreviously forbidden, causing it to be nicknamed the “X-rated pat down.”TSA officials say that the procedure will still match security screeners withpassengers of the same gender.Some security experts say the TSA has a good reason for implementing a moreinvasive search.The current pat-down method could miss an item like a handgun or a knife hiddenunder special clothing meant to conceal it, although the TSA didn’t explain howthe new hand-sliding method could detect it when the old backward-hand methodcould miss it.
Though the exact detailsabout the differences between the pat down and the new slide method are beingwithheld for security purposes, law enforcement officials say that thehand-sliding search is already being implemented at security checks across thecountry.For those wishing to opt out of an invasive slide down, the alternative may notbe much better. On Thursday, the TSA rolled outhigh-tech body scanners
at Newark International Airportin New Jersey.Newark is the latest airport to receive the body scanners. The scanners debutedat New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport last week, and the TSA hopes to install450 more machines by the end of 2010.Full-body scanners are able to create a computerized image of a person’s body,revealing concealed weapons. However, like a real-life pair of X-ray glasses,the machine also sees beneath passenger’s clothing, creating photo-realisticpicture of their body.The American Civil Liberties Union (or ACLU) has called the new scanner a”virtual strip search,” and argued that they are in violation of a passenger’sprivacy rights.The TSA, however, is unfazed by critics and has stood by its new search methods.According to TSA officials, the administration has to stay ahead of evolvingthreats and attempts to get around security measures.By Adriana Padilla for PeterGreenberg.com
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