Napolitano: ‘Junk’ Pat-Downs Vital, Remember the Underwear Bomber?
November 15, 2010
(ChattahBox US News)—Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is urging travelers to cooperate with the “layered approach to aviation security” carried out by Transportation Security Administration workers. Napolitano penned an Op/Ed in USA Today, asking American travelers “for cooperation, patience and a commitment to vigilance in the face of a determined enemy,” as the busy holiday travel season approaches. The Homeland Security chief, although she didn’t specifically mention the incident, may also be responding to the latest viral YouTube sensation of a California man who provoked a confrontation, by refusing an airport security pat-down after opting out of a body scan. “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested,” traveler John Tyner said to TSA screeners at San Diego’s airport. Tyner has since become a hero to those opposing the intrusive security measures. But Tyner’s populist revolt isn’t the only thing worrying Napolitano. To protest the increased use of airport body scanners, an activist is calling for a National Opt-Out Day on Nov.24, which happens to be the busiest travel day of the year. A mass opt-out of body scanners could cause nightmarish delays and missed flights.
In her Op/Ed, Napolitano responds to the growing backlash against intrusive security measures, by reminding us they were put in place to defend against the very real threat of terrorist attacks. Remember the Christmas Day underwear bomber anyone?
“Nearly a year after a thwarted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas Day, the recent attempt by terrorists to conceal and ship explosive devices aboard aircraft bound for the United States reminds us that al-Qaeda and those inspired by its ideology are determined to strike our global aviation system and are constantly adapting their tactics for doing so.”
“Our best defense against such threats remains a risk-based, layered security approach that utilizes a range of measures, both seen and unseen, including law enforcement, advanced technology, intelligence, watch-list checks and international collaboration.”
The Homeland Security chief also assures passengers that the Advanced Imaging Technology scanners are safe.
“AIT machines are safe, efficient, and protect passenger privacy. They have been independently evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who have all affirmed their safety. And the weapons and other dangerous and prohibited items we’ve found during AIT screenings have illustrated their security value time and again.”
And about those “junk” pat-downs, Napolitano explains the specific instances, when a pat-down is triggered. And travelers have the option of having the screening conducted in a private area.
“If an anomaly is detected during screening with AIT, if an alarm occurs after a passenger goes through a walk-through metal detector, or if a passenger opts out of either of these screening methods, we use pat-downs to help detect hidden and dangerous items like the one we saw in the failed terrorist attack last Christmas Day.”
“Pat-downs have long been one of the many security measures used by the U.S. and countries across the world to make air travel as secure as possible. They’re conducted by same-gender officers, and all passengers have the right to request private screening and have a traveling companion present during the screening process.”
But tell all that to Brian Sodegren, the activist behind the National Opt-Out Day. He views the full-body scanners as x-ray death chambers that invade our privacy. “No naked body scanners, no government-approved groping. We have a right to privacy, and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we’re guilty until proven innocent,” says Sodegren on his website.
With the specter of terrorist threats from Al-Qaeda and now, a populist revolt against increased TSA security measures, this year’s holiday travel season is shaping up to be more of a nightmare than usual.
Now, where is that train schedule?
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