TSA’s Frisky New Pat-Downs

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


If you’re traveling this summer and don’t want a TSA agent to see your graphic full-body scan, you might have to opt for a grope. Reports have surfaced that passengers who’ve refused to go through the TSA’s expensive and invasive body scanners have been treated to a more rigerous pat-down. “If anybody ever groped me like that in real life, I would have punched them in their nose,” one male traveler told the Boston Globe. “It was extremely invasive.. actually probing and pushing and seeing if I was concealing something in my genital area.”

The new “enhanced” pat-downs are different in that screeners are using the front of their hands to probe sensitive areas instead of the backs of their hands as they had previously. Another difference is screeners will use a sliding motion to move their hands over passengers’ bodies instead of a patting motion. As one female passenger said, screeners touched her face, hair, and underneath and between her breasts in their search for weapons. These new pat-downs are currently being used at Boston’s Logan airport and Las Vegas’s McCarran airport, but the TSA plans to roll them out nationally. And in case there was any doubt, these touchy-feely pat-downs are just for those who refuse to have their bodies scanned. If you go through a regular metal detector, one source says, you would only get the regular, back-of-hand pat-down.

I can’t say which I’d prefer less: being personally probed and prodded by a TSA agent, or having my body graphically scanned knowing the image has the potential to be saved. Despite the TSA blog’s bold declaration that “TSA has not, will not and the machines cannot store images of passengers at airports,” a lawsuit turned up evidence from DHS that the machines had indeed stored more than 2,000 images for “test purposes.” The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a motion to immediately halt TSA’s use of scanners pending an investigation, but until then, the agency’s stance is clear: get scanned or face the consequences.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate