Political Rants by Judy @ 10:28 AM
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Both of my readers will remember the Tale Of The Belt, in which is recounted the story of my last run-in with airport security, trying to get both #1 Son and his bullet belt down to California and back again.

Today, the Portland Tribune reports that just in time for Thanksgiving PDX Airport Security has instituted a new “up close and personal” approach to passenger screening. Too personal?

According to the Tribune, the new procedures are:

TSA screeners are supposed to be the same gender as the person being checked. They talk you through the process. First, the screener runs a hand along the back and then under the arms, between the breasts, under the breasts — checking bra straps found along the way — and between the legs. She can use the front of the hand in most areas but must use the back of the hand for the breasts, genitals and buttocks.

[…]The TSA is well-aware of the sensitivity of the new pat-down process. A headline over a summary of the process on the TSA Web site says, “Pat down, other screening enhancements must be carried out appropriately.

Golly… that sounds fun, doesn’t it? And how will the lucky recipients be selected?

First, some passengers are chosen at random when issued boarding passes. Passengers traveling on one-way tickets or who paid cash for their tickets also are selected at this stage.

Second, passengers get sent through enhanced screening when, for whatever reason, they set off the metal detector. And third, the screeners themselves can designate someone.

“We rely on screeners to make a visual inspection of passengers,” [Jennifer] Peppin [TSA spokeswoman in Seattle] said. “If there’s someone wearing something baggy with irregularities or something protruding that doesn’t look right, they have the latitude to use the new method.”

Well, it looks certain that #1 Son, at least, will be in the “doesn’t look right” category when we head to Las Vegas for Christmas, although his clothes are usually tight enough to preclude any hidden weapons. And The Belt is not going near the airport. But I think I’d better be prepared to be patted if I want to fly.

To be fair to PDX security, it is the Transportation Security Administration that has adopted the new screen rules requiring more frequent and more physical searches in reaction to the bombing of two Russian jets. But is it really necessary to subject passengers to this kind of invasive procedure? The planes blew up in Russia — not here. How does current airport security in the US compare to current airport security in Russia? How much more privacy do we give up “willingly” in the name of “Homeland Security?”

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