American Morning

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November 15th, 2010
09:22 AM ET

TSA may change pilot screenings after body scan backlash

Passengers and pilots have already expressed discomfort with TSA’s revealing full-body scanners and too-close-for-comfort pat downs. Now, at least one is doing so publicly.

Over the weekend, a 31-year-old man refused a pat down at a San Diego airport. The cell phone video where he tells a TSA agent, don't  "touch my junk," has gone viral.

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano is speaking out, too. She writes a USA Today column defending pat downs and scanners and asking passengers for their patience.

This morning, TSA speaks to American Morning. TSA Administrator John Pistole, who meets with Napolitano today, tells AM’s John Roberts how TSA is changing its tone with passengers.

Pistole responds to passengers planning a "National Opt-Out Day"  in protest of the scanners and Capt. Sully Sullenberger's recent comments that he doesn't understand the purpose of screening pilots.

Filed under: Airline safety • Airlines • American Morning
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Herr Goebbels

    Effryone must get ze streep search for zere own good! A streep-searched city-zen eez a happy city-zen. Jawohl!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
  2. A. Pilot

    I just watched this interview on CNN and I'm completely disgusted. This guy made many valid points both in his video and the interview and all the anchor could do was to put words in his mouth. She tries to paint this as some sort of safety issue. Personal privacy and basic constitutional, even god given rights, are being violated by this ignorant TSA agency. This talk of safety is a major hoax. What other countries use these tactics or this equipment. Historically, many more international airports around the world have been much safer than anything here in the US. Security here is a joke, even more so than prior 9/11.

    I watch these TSA idiots everyday at multiple airports, and it is all the same batch of uselessness everywhere. I've watched them harass passengers for no reason, but just to flex their pretend power. These people answered an ad in the newspaper and are given this false sense of power.

    You people call flying a privileged. No, not when a passenger spends their hard earned money on a ticket. It is now their right. And to have our own government create this useless agency to invade our own personal rights and to "sexually assault" people on a daily basis, how is that okay?

    I'm not sure about you, but I'm an American, and with that come certain rights. If you want a government that has as much control over what you are pushing, please, move to North Korea. If not, then grab a history book, read our constitution, and learn what America was founded on.

    November 15, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  3. Dan Parker

    Only if gloves are changed after each junk patdown

    November 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  4. law

    I'm a frequent flyer I got picked 99% of the time because I'm a minority. I once sat outside the security area in ATL for 20 minutes and noticed that minorities and young adults have better chance to go through the scanner or padded down. I'm just curious of what guideline TSA has for their agents ? Is it acceptable to have your kids or wife being looked at naked on the screen and groin searched by a stranger with a TSA badge ? I am sure they don't go by race, age or how you look. As the TSA Chief said that if you don't like it don't fly. We are losing our choice and right in the name of security. What's next ?

    November 15, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  5. JaxJax

    I would not want to be one that flight that does not make it to its destination because of one lax screener that had an unhappy person that did not want to be screened. I'm glad they did not let him on the flight. What was it he wanted to hide?


    November 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  6. Kim

    How is anyone safe with this "random" procedure? My choices at the Richmond Airport have always been naked scan or groping while my husband ALWAYS just walks through the metal detector. Why does he have more rights than me? The last time out after my groping, I discussed this with the lady that sat beside me on the plane. She stated that security let her through with a large can of hairspray and a zippo lighter. So here I sat between my husband who had God knows what on him because he didn't get groped and the potential hairspray torcher who didn't get groped. But rest assured my large "harm- inducing breasts" would not be responsible for bringing down the aircraft that day. Boy did I feel safe with these "random" procedures set in place

    November 15, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  7. Fall of the republic

    For those of you that like these searches that willfully give up your rights and bow down to tyranny and unconstitutional searches and patdowns like a bunch of dumbed down sheep dont step on others rights that see this as nothing more than a violation of our rights to privacy as citizens of a free United States of America because you willfully give up your rights. This is what a democracy mob rules mentality brings where if we were a republic like were suppose to be this whole mess wouldnt be happening. Communism or socialism and also Naziism or Facism can't survive and manifest itself in a constitutional republic form of center right government politic forum but only in a democracy can these forms of evil tyranny survive so whats next sheep? Are you gonna accept cavity searches and even more humiliation? I say let the airlines go out of business then I refuse to be searched and profiled like I'm a criminal for doing absolutely nothing and I'm not going to submit like I am a criminal either. All of you need to wake up to the dangerous road you are decending down into. I'm an American and also a taxpayer and our soldiers and vets served for freedom and liberty not Nazism and Communism and this must stoppped and recognized and put to an end! Educate yourself as to what happens when these forms of tyrannical government take hold of a free society and the futilism and end scenarios of the independent free populace how it came about incrementally and what happened to the free peoples history has shown us.

    November 15, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  8. pw

    I wonder if members of congress have to go through a body scan?

    November 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  9. Jessica

    As some one who enjoys flying I can understand all the concern over "getting groped". While some people have had a "negative" experience there are ways that we can make this work for all. For people who are frequent fliers are x-rayed numerous times there are other modes of transportation, if it is a job requirement there are other jobs, if you are truly that concerned about the health risk. Parents have the right to be present and finished with their scans and pat downs before their children begin the routine so that they can see if there is any misconduct. For all of you who feel you've been "inappropriately touched, there are a million cameras in airports now, make a complaint and make a case. It will be on camera if a hand went to high or lingered in too long. I am concerned about my rights but I am more concerned about the nations safety rather than "Opting Out" I will continue to Opt in and help to find more of a compromise between both sides.

    November 15, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  10. Brian Cirulnick

    Yes Robby, let's consider the "alternative" - that we agree to let the goverment place cameras in our bedrooms, tap our phones, monitor what we surf on the internet, all in the name of being safe and that we shouldn't do anything inappropriate.

    I should remind you that our country was founded by rebels and terrorists, people who wouldn't sit down and silently accept their fate as dictated by the King.

    And lets celebrate another fine American, Rosa Parks, who wouldn't give up her seat when told to by "the authorities". I guess you'd tell her to shut up and do what she was told.

    Go ahead, let Habib blow up his panties if he wants. He'll probably be the ONLY guy on the plane by that time. Because the rest of us aren't going to put up with it. Americans want their country back.

    November 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
  11. Kindergarten Reporting

    The man DID NOT threaten a TSA Agent.

    Also, the man was not fined, he was THREATENED with a fine and law suit – for following he instructions of numerous TSA agents and a police officer.

    November 15, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  12. Hibijibi

    Just about all frequent flyers think the TSA is run and staffed mostly by people who don't think for themselves and just Follow the Rules like robots, and that it doesn't help security at all. You can actually major in TSA at some colleges. What kind of people do that? Do you think they teach geography and sensitivity there?

    ALL the terrorists who've been caught before acting were caught either by citizens acting on their own (the underwear and shoe bombers) or by intelligence exterior to the airports. The TSA hasn't caught anyone. NOT ONE. Believe me they'd be bragging out the wazoo if they had. While making my 86-year-old mother step aside for "special treatment." Yeah. That makes me feel safer.

    I would like a Congressional investigation into the TSA and how much "security" actually helps anyone but the terrorists who must be laughing at the huge cost and human time-waste of our "security" procedures. If they want to kill lots of people there are plenty of ways to do it.

    November 15, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  13. Robby Robinson

    The same people crying for us to "BOYCOTT" flying are the same ones that will be crying for the TSA to be disbanded the first time Habib successfully blows up his fruit of the looms!!

    Wake up people, yes it is an extra hassle, but think of the Alternative !!

    November 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  14. Gary Burke

    Stacy: These things were bought during the Bush administration, you remember him? he's the one who tapped americas phones without warrants, violating 300 million people civil rights.

    Here are some fun scanner facts:

    Michael Chertoff, former DHS Chief, is now a lobbyist for... Wait for it... Airport scanners! He's making millions off of xrays of your bikini area.

    The TSA has said the photos can't be saved. That doesn't make any sense, if you DID find someone, you'd want to save that evidence.

    The TSA has NEVER caught a terrorist.

    Janet Napolitano recently went through an airport in AZ, skipping the xray scanner. If they're so freaking safe, why didn't she use it? Did she receive the enhanced body cavity search instead?

    Stand up for your rights, demand the body search, in public, and have anyone who touches you inappropriately arrested.

    November 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  15. Brian Cirulnick

    The entire security theater the TSA has erected is a just a way to trample our rights. It doesn't make anyone safer. In fact, when you're all lined up to get into the scanner, you present a meatier target to a potential terrorist than when you're on the plane! On a plane, he might only kill 100 of you, but in the airport, he can kill a 1000. And there's no security to that.

    So how about they scan you before you leave your house to come to the airport? Or they scan you before you can enter a train, or a bus, or a shopping mall, or anyplace else people gather?

    And I'm sure you're all against child porn, but you're letting the TSA goons scan your kids and upload the pictures to the internet? Sure, no one has been caught yet doing that, but it'll be just a matter of time before it does happen. And it'll happen, just as sure as TSA agents steal your laptops and iPods.

    Whatever happened to home of free and the brave? The terrorists won because you're all afraid now to step on a plane without giving up the rights soldiers fought and died for. Terrorists are about *terror*. And if you're afraid, then they won. Congratulations sheep.

    I'd rather die and be free then live under the opprossive thumb of a government that keeps people "safe" by illusions of safety.

    November 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  16. Mary.detroit

    I hope this guy really does decide not to fly again. I would hate to have him on my flight. I have been patted down and scanned and never regretted it. I am a nervous flyer, and appreciate the feeling of security TSA provides - although I do think the manner of the some of the agents needs improvement.

    November 15, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
  17. Sally Powers

    What is the problem? I have had a full body scan and my husband had the pat-downs (he has had a knee replacement and is given the extra screening going through security). If people don't like it, they don't need to fly!!
    This guy was behaving like an idiot.

    November 15, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  18. john

    I think the x-rays go a bit overboard. But I don't mind giving people full pat downs.

    I just had a full patdown at a football game last week, not a big deal.

    November 15, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  19. John T

    I find it very interesting that TSA insists of this type of screening for every person, when their best day is about 5% of cargo–the most recent terrorism attempt. They are still living in the days of Reed's shoe bomb, and the guy who tried to blow up his underwear while doing little to solve the problem of the cargo bombs we have recently seen.

    The biggest proboem is TSA itself, which continues to find its best employees in the unemployment lines, gives them a uniform and authority which they are then trained to misuse.

    November 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  20. sai

    We should comply with the TSA rules and regulations. They are doing this for our own safety. Let us respect them please!

    November 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  21. CB

    The man did not *THREATEN* anyone. Come on, CNN, get your facts straight, the whole incident is available on his website here:

    Does anyone REALLY think that if he had threatened the TSA that they would have let him walk out of the airport? The man is being threatened with a fine because he refused to submit to the invasive pornoscan or newly invasive TSA patdown.

    November 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  22. Penny Lane

    I strongly encourage people to INFORM THE AIRLINES that they are cancelling plans to purchase air fares.

    We no longer have any rights as citizens in this country, but the corporations still have plenty of influence.....

    The way to get this policy changed is for the private sector (i.e., the airlines and tourism industry) to step up and say, "No – this is killing business. This has to stop." That was how the Sheik Muhammed trial in NYC got stopped – the real estate association went to Mayor Bloomberg and said If you do this, it will destroy our ability to do business. So Bloomberg called it off.

    People – contact the airlines and tell them how you changed your plans to purchase an air ticket after this TSA policy became public!

    November 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  23. Yash

    Ms. Clinton,

    Please report the facts of the issue properly. He did not threaten an agent. He told them that he would have them arrested if they "touched his junk". That does not constitute a threat. Also, the $10,000 fine is because he chose to have his flight refunded and cancel his trip rather than be groped. The entire incident was recorded and is at his website

    November 15, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  24. f451

    Y'all really dropped the ball on this one. What you failed to mention and/or notice is that he has been threatened with a fine not because of his statement but because he left the secure area to exit the airport.

    He was escorted out of the secure area by law enforcement after he declined the "groin check", got his fare refunded at the ticket counter, and then as he was leaving the airport TSA came up to him and said that he was never supposed to have been escorted out of the secure area.

    Apparently their belief is that once you are at the check point you cannot leave without either being seen naked or being felt up, even if you are leaving to return to the non-secure public side in order to exit the building.

    I sincerely hope TSA does try to bring suit against him. He was escorted out by law enforcement at their request, and then was threatened a $10,000 fine for complying with the secort (not for advising TSA against groping his genitals. I don't see that standing up in court.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  25. Fred W

    My young daughter recently had pin in her leg due a bone defect. If the TSA requests the enhanced pat down on her, both her parents will absolutely refuse to have her groped by TSA agents.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  26. Sara Sjoberg

    Congress needs to do something immediately to stop this egregious violation of our 4th Amendment rights. The latest procedures are nothing less than an all-out sexual assault of the American people. I won't be flying on November 24th, but EVERY day will be Opt-Out Day for me.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  27. Mark

    Boycott Flying! Please join us:

    November 15, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  28. G

    I will absolutely not submit to a fully body scan. I wouldn't dare put in jeopardy, my health, my unborn child's, nor would I allow my husband to subject himself to it, as I'd like to have second child free of issues.

    Though the TSA says it safe, it's always ten years later they realize they were wrong or come out with some statement saying that they were incorrect. If I had cancer, I certainly wouldn't subject myself to the body scan...

    There are just so many issues with this. Health concerns, violations of the 4th amendement, and who's on the other side, background checks are only so good. I wouldn't want some pedophile looking at my child's body scan or someone looking at mine. And how soon before it comes out that they've been saving the body scans as part of intelligence even though they said they wouldn't??

    I used to fly a good deal for business, but I've actually cancelled a number of my trips and am trying go the video conference route. -I really wanted to go on 2-3 leisure trips next year, but I'll have to reevaluate that as day, Maldives, one day..

    November 15, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  29. Jacob Rubenstein

    As an inflight crewmember, I feel that these measures of scanning peoples bodies are not only an invasion of privacy, but a health risk as well. The first question in my mind (especially if I am a frequent flyer or an airport employee of any kind) is what are the health risks of having my body scanned by an XRAY (be it low radiation or not) multiple times a week? Let's face it, the XRAY tech at the hospitals dont even stay in the same room to take the xray, and you want me to go through a "lowradiation XRAY machine" that will show my full body scan, multiple times a week and risk my health AND privacy?? Not a chance, my next option, to be groped?? The USA needs to get with it, TSA is a joke and always has been. The USA should focus on not being so P.C. and focus on the real issues. It is kind of ironic, walking through washington D.C. airport, A LARGE percentage of TSA agents are wearing turbans on their heads, and will be doing body scans on me, instead of the opposite. WAKE UP USA and WAKE UP HOMELAND SECURITY, yes I WILL OPT OUT and I would recommend the same to everyone else.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  30. Stacey

    This guy is going to see a pitch fork protest if he keeps up! Commie Obamie and Nazi Napolitano are taking this country and the 4th amendment down. Napolitano put photo radar cameras (with live streaming video) all over Arizona. So, none of this surprises me.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  31. nathan

    It's too late. Combination of fees, price and the over-the-top TSA goons, I am done flying for good.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  32. Bobby

    Please do not change how we are scanned before flying. Those of us who fly frequently are fine with the added security and any extra scanning. At least I am. These less frequent fliers and shall I say rude people("MY Junk" Now really!!) stand in the way of those of us who love and need to fly. Good Bye. Drive if you like. I prefer to fly safely.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  33. Robert

    It's so silly to have this notion of "whatever it takes" to be safe. That's a myth. You drive to work every day (well those who still have a job), and you see wrecks every day. You don't give up liberty for safety and security...even if 7 extra planes come down, it's still going to be safer than driving to the local mall, statistically. And we all know if these scanners and pat-downs (gropes) become normalized in airports, we will soon see them at Disneyland and at the stadium...the mall.
    The TSA should stick to international travel and border control (there's an idea!) and let the airport companies run their own security-not these goverment thugs.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  34. C Pelnar

    Even tho it may be uncomfortable, I will always let them scan me. What would even be more uncomfortable would be having my loved ones plan a funeral for me because someone would not allow the scan.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  35. Raphael

    It has also been an issue when traveling as a young black mann even after nine 11 it seem to always fall on me when it was time for a random scanning. Body scann can be cool but there needs to be a clear chain on how it happens so it does look like certain races are being harassed

    November 15, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  36. mim logue

    10,000 dollar fine? why dont they just take a kidney. i would check if that government worker had wires behind his collar. the government is run by a bunch of aliens, Doesnt anyone else think that fine is a little excessive?? Did he act violent?

    November 15, 2010 at 9:53 am |