Travelers express concerns over screenings

November 22, 2010 7:02:51 PM PST
Today is the busiest day of the Thanksgiving travel week at SFO and the added security pat downs are slowing things down for some. It is kind of interesting that the protest of the pat downs could end up slowing things down for everybody.

Millions of Americans are already traveling for Thanksgiving and many are expressing concern over more intensive pat down searches and the new full body screening machines.

"You're given one of two options: you can either let some random person that you don't know see your naked body or you can be felt up by someone," opt-out protest organizer Allison Gibbs said.

Gibbs is one of the organizers of a protest planned for this Wednesday at San Francisco International Airport and at San Jose Mineta Airport. Their website is calling on travelers to opt out of the full body screening and request instead a pat down as a form of protest.

"You're voting with your body, you're saying 'I'm not going to be a part of these machines and if you are then you're going to have to go through extra security measures in order to be able to invade my privacy,'" she said.

One reason for the uproar over the pat downs is a growing number of airport screening horror stories. In Florida, bladder cancer survivor Tom Sawyer was patted down and the medical bag that collects his urine burst.

"Here I am in this room with no windows, I've got urine, two men I don't know and my underwear had been dropped to the floor," he said.

In San Diego, a man frustrated with the TSA request for a pat down of his son took off the boy's shirt and handed it to security. The YouTube video has had more than a million hits.

On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters her department will listen to concerns and make adjustments.

"But not changes or adjustments that will affect the basic operational capability that we need to have to make sure that air travel remains safe," she said.

Asked about the opt-out protest planned for Wednesday, Napolitano said she hoped passengers won't take part.

"We hope people will not opt-out. We hope people will understand the goal, the purpose and the need for what is being done and be partners in this," she said.


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