Airline Security Screening Methods: Just for Show?

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Around 80 percent of Americans in a recent survey said they favor more thorough and intimate screening procedures at the nation's airports.

However, a growing minority of air travelers have become more outraged and outspoken at what they consider a serious invasion of their privacy. Pilots and flight attendants also worry that new full-body scanners will over time expose them to too much radiation. They have also said it's a waste of time to check air crews again and again.

"We're former military pilots," said Captain Garry Kravit, a pilot with United Airlines. "We're former police officers. In many cases, we are federal law enforcement officials, deputized as federal flight deck officers. To waste the resources, take them away from the true threat and apply them to our pilots is just absurd."

Some passengers are upset, too. They're uncomfortable not knowing what will happen to the naked pictures taken of them that these extremely-thorough scanners reveal. If passengers refuse to go through the scanners, they have to endure pat downs across the groin, buttocks and bosom.

"I don't like being touched like that, personal areas and everything," one passenger said. "It's just kind of invasive."

Would-be passenger John Tyner captured his argument with Transportation Security Association screeners at the San Diego International Airport on his cell phone, and put the video of the confrontation on the website YouTube, where it's been widely viewed.

"I didn't intend to go through the machine or be groped," Tyner said.

As he walked out of the airport in protest, Tyner was threatened by security officials, who said he could be fined as much as $11,000 for failing to complete a screening.

Is Tyner's airport outrage just a publicity stunt?

"It's not," said Suzanne, Tyner's wife. 'It's a man standing on his principles and deciding enough is enough."

Airport security agents are upfront about the new searches.

"They'll be coming up closer to your to the top of your legs," said Barara McNally, Fort Sill, Okla., airport official. "They'll pass their hands across the zipper portion of your pants."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the TSA can't afford to keep using old, less-invasive security that will let terrorists slip through the screening process.

"It would be unwise to say the least, irresponsible of us at the TSA, at the Homeland Security Department not to evolve our technology to match the changing threat environment that we inhabit," Napolitano added.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to hold a hearing on the subject of airport security Wednesday.

Rep. John Mica, R - Fla., one of the congressmen who helped create the TSA after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.,  has encouraged airports to dump the TSA and hire private security firms, which the current law also allows.

Mica complains TSA's methods aren't really effective and are more for show -- than actual security.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.