New TSA Security Procedures

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/15/10 06:20 PM

While this is a non-magic topic, but also a non-political and non-religious topic, I thought it might make an interesting conversation.

Many of us travel frequently because of magic, whether it's on business to a gig, or to a magic convention, and so on. I recently flew to both London and Boston (separate trips) and watched the new TSA pat-down procedure. I was horrified by it: passengers are literally groped by the TSA officers. They feel your entire crotch and behind, including as far up into the crack as they can slide their hands, and women have the added pleasure of having their breasts felt.

On my trip back from Boston I went through one of the new-fangled X-ray machines. I don't mind if someone in a room somewhere looks at my gonads--who the hell cares. But what a pain in the ass because you have to empty every single item from your pockets, remove your belt and wristwatch, and that doubles (at least) the amount of time a person takes in preparing to go through the checkpoint. Can you imagine how long the lines are going to be at busy airports?

If you refuse the full body scan, then you're guaranteed to get a "right going-over" as the Brits would say. Frankly, I draw the line at having some TSA agent feel my penis in public--or private.

I think the TSA has a valid job in stopping people from bringing explosives and/or weapons onto planes, but where does it stop? NONE of these new additional security measures (including all of the older ones) will detect anything inside your body--ala Houdini storing lockpicks up his keister or Paris Hilton smuggling cocaine inside her you-know-what.

What do all of you think?
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Postby AJM » 11/15/10 06:30 PM

My view is that anyone who wants to commit a dastardly deed will find a way.
As for the rest of us?
Just let us on to the freakin' plane with some dignity, if not our shoes belts and you-know-whats, intact.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 11/15/10 06:34 PM

Personally, I draw the line at having them take naked pictures of me, my wife and my child. If they want to feel me up, I'll make them do it in public and insure that they feel as awkward as they possibly can doing so. I just had a friend wearing sweats who was told that he could have a private screening because they would have to put their hands DOWN THE FRONT ON HIS PANTS because he was wearing loose clothing. He said, "No. Go ahead and feel me up here in front of everyone."

My mother in law is a breast cancer survivor and was recently embarrassed in front of everyone in line when they declared "You've had a mastectomy!" We are going to have to do a secondary search on you because of your prosthesis. The unknown fact for them was that she was accompanied by her husband, my father in law, a 25 year veteran of the FBI and former head of security for a major airline. YEAH.. she's a security threat!

This is all just security theater!

You can look at the stats and research, but nothing that they are doing would have prevented any of the incidents that have made the news over the last couple of years. If you are a sheep, walk through the scanners, hold your hands up and say it all ok. If not, you should OPT OUT. That is your right!

What about our kids? Should your 14 year old daughter be looked at NAKED via the scanner by some hourly employee that is just there to provide a false sense of security?

Natonal OPT OUT dat is 11 - 24- 2010

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Postby Brad Henderson » 11/15/10 06:57 PM

I know women are given (or at least the option is given) a female agent to pat them down.

Can men also request a female?

Sure, it might make her feel uncomfortable as hell, but that seems only fair.
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Postby Master Payne » 11/15/10 07:22 PM

I think the full body scanners and pat downs are a great idea. It seems to be the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. At long last people are saying "enough is enough! We want our dignity back!". We far too willingly surrendered our rights and ideals in a vain attempt to make air travel safer. Not a single incident has been prevented with these intrusive screening processes nor a single plot uncovered. They are simply a way to keep the populace living in fear and reinforce our willingness to be submissive to the state. All of these "security measures" would not have prevented the first attack. They will not prevent the next. We need to stop living in fear and take our ability to travel by air without being humiliated back.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/15/10 07:26 PM

The current security measures might well have revealed the box cutters that the 9/11 hijackers used to kill the pilots. So, some security measures are valid, and justified.
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Postby Ted M » 11/15/10 08:01 PM

Barring the cockpit door already prevents that.

No plane can become a missile again. That was accomplished on September 14, 2001 by always locking the cockpit doors. Nine years ago.
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Postby Dave Klaiber » 11/15/10 08:06 PM

I am curious and don't know the answer. What is the extent of the security for boarding for Israeli either flying into or out of their country on their airlines or others? How do their security checks compare with TAS's outrageous new ones?

Personally I do not intend to do any flying until TSA rethinks their idiotic new rules. I have to wholeheartedly agree with Master Payne and most of the other comments given here. If the public has really had enough and the flying passengers cut back or stop flying completely maybe the airlines will feel the pain and lobby against these asinine changes.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 11/15/10 08:26 PM

Sorry to keep venting, but the body scanners that we are discussing weren't needed to prevent the box cutters and such that were used in 9-11

My wife is a flight attendant for a major carrier, so I am very thoughtful with regard to security. Add to that he dad's role as corporate director of security for another major airline, and his career and an FBI agent, and I think that I have some unique insights and back stories which have influenced my opinions.

Sadly, most of these procedures are about people making money and not security. The former head of the Homeland Security is now the senior consultant for one of the companies manufacturing these scanners to the tune of $250K per unit plus maintenance contract.

Like I said before, there is security, and there is security theater.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 11/15/10 08:27 PM

A plane can become a missile again. That has already been done here since 9-11.

Do these new procedures deter a certain group? They just might.

As there are mutts still out there trying to bring down planes as late as last week on UPS planes, what to do?

I know I wouldn't want to be the person to relax the procedure, only to have a 747 blow up in mid air with 200+ on board.
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Postby erdnasephile » 11/15/10 09:58 PM

Quote by Dave Klaiber: "I am curious and don't know the answer. What is the extent of the security for boarding for Israeli either flying into or out of their country on their airlines or others? How do their security checks compare with TAS's outrageous new ones?"

El Al is considered one of the (if not the) safest airlines in the world. Their security checks are more intrusive than TSA in that they interview each potential passenger, have a much more visible show of force (including armed personnel--undercover and otherwise), and openly employ profiling. They take their security seriously and don't appear to worry much about how it is perceived by the politically correct elements of society.
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Postby Robert Allen » 11/15/10 11:13 PM

Personally I'm holding out for the anal probes. I just hope they don't charge me too much to get one :)
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Postby Terry » 11/15/10 11:14 PM

Michael Finney posted on FB about the offensive groping he endured when leaving Florida for Arizona.

I have to agree with Dodd & others - this is nothing more than bells & whistles to make someone rich.

Re x-ray scanners - much like the phony H1N1 (swine flu) scare by the CDC, I don't trust the powers that be in regards to excessive radiation exposure.
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Postby Terry » 11/15/10 11:17 PM

Robert - no thanks - I have a physician who does my colonoscopy.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/16/10 12:07 AM

At least you get drugs for a colonoscopy!
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Postby Roger M. » 11/16/10 01:25 AM

Every country has to have their Moriarty......or nobody makes any money.
That's all this is about.......the "ghost" under the bed.

It's a sorry state when the single greatest fear of air travelers today is getting their "junk" manipulated rather than being on a plane that gets hi-jacked.

It's all about fear.......and keeping the fear alive.

People seem to get all uncomfortable talking about the positive aspects of racial profiling (just like El Al regularly undertakes)........but frankly it's far better to target those who've caused 100% of the problems to date, rather than 100% of those who choose to fly in a plane, none of whom are "Moriarty".
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Postby David Alexander » 11/16/10 01:59 AM

Dodd, I like the term "security theater." Most appropriate.

Years ago I had an experience that caused me to radically curtail my flying. I was returning from a lecture in Phoenix (non-magicial) in the days before there was a TSA. I asked that my briefcase be searched manually.

As I stood while the guard examined the contents of my case I was slightly horrified to see that all he did was poke his fingers into the case while checking out the women around us. He didn't look in my briefcase once. Not once. I bit my tongue and didn't say anything as this idiot could have made my life extremely difficult had I pointed out his incompetence.

Having flown a few times since the creation of the TSA I can say I'm not impressed by the level of intelligence in many of the screeners. Too often they seem petty people with too much power and authority.

The people running security don't impress me much. Some years back I dropped off a friend at Los Angeles International Airport. There was "heightened security" so we had to drive through a check point where two fat cops sitting under a canopy looked at people driving in. No security there.

As I took my friend to his carrier I noticed that because of the heightened security there were huge lines of people all having to stand outside...in neatly lined up like clay pigeons in a shooting gallery...and there was no cover anywhere.

I observed that because of the physical set up a van load of bad guys could drive in and open up with shot guns and automatic weapons, take out a couple hundred people without any problem and then be on a freeway within 20 seconds of leaving the airport. They could change cars and vanish within 90 seconds. It seemed painfully obvious to me that lining up all those people outside was really stupid.

A few years later the RAND Corp was paid several hundred thousand dollars to study the "problem" and came to the same conclusion. I guess there's money in stating the obvious if you have a PhD after your name.

As Dodd said, "Security Theater."

My wife and I are going to California in late January. We've opted to take the train.
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Postby Randy K » 11/16/10 02:10 AM

why not kill two birds with one stone have a doctor there and have your yearly physical
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Postby NCMarsh » 11/16/10 02:27 AM

"People seem to get all uncomfortable talking about the positive aspects of racial profiling (just like El Al regularly undertakes)........but frankly it's far better to target those who've caused 100% of the problems to date, rather than 100% of those who choose to fly in a plane"

Because someone who looks like this:

Image

must be harmless, right....

(that would be Adam Yahiye Gahan, white American Citizen born in CA, who is a high level Al Qaeda operative in Af/Pak)
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/16/10 04:26 AM

I'm with Dodd on this one. I'll be saying, "A little more to the left...yeah, right there." Or, "Where's the line for the 'Happy Ending' search?"
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Postby Terrence » 11/16/10 09:50 AM

Conan's comment last night was like "the part that creeps me out is when the TSA guy is done patting me down, he say's --- 'OK --- now do me.'".
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/16/10 11:04 AM

I'm just glad the rubber glove and personal invasion folks are spending their days in airports doing something semiproductive rather than just prowling the streets during the day and the bars at night.

But how do they keep you from catching a cold or flu or worse from all the other people who've been in those nasty little rooms before you?

I forget who coined the term "security theater" - though it's much kinder than simply admitting that any focus on such things is a victory for those who thrive on fear and terror.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 11/16/10 11:26 AM

I love the tagline "Invasion of the body scanners."

Here's a couple of sample images from the scanners for those who haven't seen them before. May not be safe for work:

http://www.worldculturepictorial.com/im ... -image.jpg

http://www.realbollywood.com/news/up_im ... 115108.jpg

And here's a story from the UK on the misues of the system: http://www.theage.com.au/travel/travel- ... -qxqa.html
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Postby David Alexander » 11/16/10 12:03 PM

This matter made the headlines in this morning's Chicago Tribune.

Several things occur to me:

That the draconian and intrusive full-body searches are a ploy to push people into the scanners as the "lesser" of two evils.

You have to wonder what sort of a person signs up to work for the TSA and willingly spends 8 hours a day intrusively groping people. What would doing that 40 hours a week do to a "normal" person?

How much would a tabloid pay a screener for a scan of Angelina Jolie? I suspect it is just a matter of time before someone figures out how to get a scan of a celebrity. With two screeners working together it wouldnt be difficult.

According to the Trib article, children under 12 are exempt from the full-body searches. So if you opt out of the scanner all the talks youve given your kids about strangers and bad touching goes out the window if theyre older than 12. You have to wonder how they settled on the age of 12 and not 10 or 13. Who thinks about things like this?

Given the number of people who were molested as children I can only wonder how damaging this process will be to them. Are procedures in place when someone has a meltdown after being groped by the TSA?

The scanners cannot detect anything internally so two people working in tandem could hide more than enough material in their rectums to take down a plane, circumventing the entire security procedures with a simple work around.

Pronouncements from the Secretary of Homeland Security ring hollow as she almost certainly flew in on a government plane and was not subjected to a groping by a subordinate.
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Postby Robert Allen » 11/16/10 12:29 PM

Ok, my tendency for jokes aside; the terrorists won. America, and the American gov't, live in fear.

That said, though I haven't pondered this much, given the existance of underwear bombs, I can sort of see why this latest search is necessary. Probably a lot more necessary than other things the TSA has done.

I'd go for the grope rather than the irradiation. Pilots unions are already complaining about the backscatter radiation used in some of the machinese. And I'm not real enthused about being exposed to "millimeter wave radiation" either.

In other news, the TSA has reportedly released a new marketing campaign showing a blue gloved hand with the logo "Go for the Grope!" :)

[edited to add stupid joke, above]
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/16/10 12:47 PM

that line about "given the existance of underware bombs" has got to have funnier applications.

Folks do know that stress is a health risk factor of its own, right?
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 11/16/10 01:05 PM

Do not confuse fear with caution. Maybe even be be prepared to react to a situation like Flight 93 did.

When someone comes up with a better plan than the TSA is now using, they should submit it right away. ;)
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Postby Magic Newswire » 11/16/10 01:09 PM

The "underwear bomber" (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab) was on a flight originating from Amsterdam, not from within the US.

The "shoe bomber" (Richard Colvin Reid) on Flight 63 was en-route from Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France. This incident is why you now must remove your shoes when going through screening even though the scanners still will not detect PETN.

The "Liquid Bombers" were on flights originating from the UK destined for the US and Canada.

Also, I find it Hysterical that everyone was so initially upset over the pilot who took a stand against the screening of the crew. Have we forgotten THAT HE'S FLYING THE PLANE!? He doesn't need anything to take it down! HE'S FLYING THE PLANE! Also, many pilots are now FFTO's and are allowed to carry a gun in the cockpit.

Also of interest is that the TSA set the domestic travel security level at Orange in August of 2006 and it has been there ever since. In fact, the signs, which were once able to be changed, are now permanent.
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Postby Roger M. » 11/16/10 01:13 PM

Because someone who looks like this:

Image

must be harmless, right....

(that would be Adam Yahiye Gahan, white American Citizen born in CA, who is a high level Al Qaeda operative in Af/Pak)


Well, you made my point for me.......you're helping keep the fear alive!

Backscatter "all-nude" scan that might not cause cancer, or grope the genitals of 10 or 20 million male and female travelers because one white guy might be a terrorist?

Not being flip with you, but I'd rather depend on meteal detectors, explosive-detecting swabs, racial profiling, and a fully functional no-fly list COMBINED with security screeners that are 5 or 10 times better trained professionals than the current batch of McDonalds employees.

If the security screeners were PROFESSIONALS, real professionals, then rather than pretending we're safer, we actually would be safer.

There's simply no need to grab a guys dick or subject a person to unproven radiation technology just so they can climb on an airplane.

Of course, the terrorists have already won, the country lives in an artificially created state of constant fear .........the question now is, when will people start to take their lost freedoms back?
I suspect that battle to take those freedoms back started earlier this week with the easily understood statement of one normal guy "touch my junk and I'll have you arrested".
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Postby Robert Allen » 11/16/10 01:21 PM

Yes and let's not forget that Senator Ted Kennedy ended up on the no fly list. The many possible jokes aside, that did not exactly give one confidence in the validity or utility of said list.

Back in either 1985 or 1987 (I forget which) a group based around the terrorist Abu Nidal blew up the TWA terminal at the Frankfurt, Germany, airport. I had travelled through that terminal the week before. A collegue of mine and his family missed it just by a day or so. Yet I still flew for years afterwards without a care.

In 2001 some terrorists attacked the US as we know. I was out of state at the time and had to fly back, but I wasn't worried.

Since that time the gov't and the TSA instituted a variety of Draconian measures, none of which have stopped any of the recent attempts at airplane-based terrorism. I stopped flying. Not out of fear of the terrorists, but out of fear I might piss off the TSA, Homeland Security, or some other faceless organization and get hauled off to Little Gitmo somewhere. I am not afraid of the terrorists. I am afraid of the gov't bureaucracy. And no I'm not joking at all.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/16/10 01:27 PM

Random thoughts:

David: Everyone has seen Angelina Jolie naked. Now, Jennifer Aniston, thats a whole different game. (And for the other half plus 10%, Brad Pitt.)

No need to payoff an unscrupulous TSA employee. I suspect that someone like Larry Flint could find a way to use the Freedom of Information Act to acquire the scans legally.

It never occurred to me until now that my buying a ticket on a commercial airline flight could be considered probable cause.

Im waiting for some entrepreneur to come up with realistic (or even better, amusing) extensions I can buy before I fly again.

I also want a safe body paint that will show up on the x-ray. A smiley face on my gut 24 Hour Parking on my wifes thigh Thanks, come again on my ass. (Or will the First Amendment be suspendedalong with the Fourthfor commercial air flight?)

I have to go to work now and see how they take the news that I refuse to fly anywhere.

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Postby Ted M » 11/16/10 01:54 PM

What exactly is prevented by these procedures?

(1) A passenger turning an airplane into a missile and steering it into their choice of building?

or

(2) The plane being blown up?


#1 is major -- it can be catastrophic. But a passenger hijacker is already prevented by barring the cockpit door, and by a cabin full of passengers who will take down any fellow passenger who tries to hijack the plane.

#2's damage is far more limited in scope. And making everybody ride the plane naked can't prevent this, since it can still be accomplished by somebody OUTSIDE the plane, especially given the ready availability of weaponry in this country. If somebody wants to blow up an airplane, it can be done.

As I recall, #2 used to be a pretty regular occurrence due to mechanical issues. Before 2001, a large airliner fell out of the sky in the US about every year or so. It was considered as unfortunate, but normal.

So:

The promise of safety promised by naked scans and sexually molesting the passengers is chock full of holes. We're asked/ordered to give up a great deal (freedom from government search, human dignity, bodily autonomy), in exchange for... well, nothing.

(distribute tiny american flags, cue drum and fife music...)

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"Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
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Postby erdnasephile » 11/16/10 02:06 PM

All joking aside (at least until Dustin's next post :) )...

What I think was a very unfortunate side effect of the Post 9/11 security measures was Tommy Wonder's open reluctance to visit the US prior to his untimely death. I seem to recall that his public statement detailed his refusal to undergo what he felt was such undeserved and oppressive scrutiny.

Another example of security gone awry was when someone played a gag on Ken Brooke years ago by alerting the authorities that he might be a suspicious person, which got him rather thoroughly searched. By all reports, the resulting humiliation really traumatized Mr. Brooke and cast a pall on what should have otherwise been a very special trip.

I understand the need for security, but the TSA folks seem to be one step behind. The bad guys have already moved on to planting bombs in unchecked cargo. Better to figure out a way to plug that huge hole than spending more time molesting folks, the vast majority of whom are innocent.

Finally, a number of folks have expressed concern over the potential dangers of the body scans. I do have some expertise in this area. The back scatter radiation is really very low from these scans. In fact, you will almost certainly get exposed to more radiation from the flight itself (depending on the duration).

While any extra radiation is undesirable, this is another case of risk v. benefit. The increased risk of cancer is obviously not zero, but it is rather low. The benefit? Who can say? I'll let those of you who are far wiser than I am tackle that issue! :)
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/16/10 02:06 PM

"The promise of safety promised by naked scans and sexually molesting the passengers is chock full of holes. We're asked/ordered to give up a great deal (freedom from government search, human dignity, bodily autonomy), in exchange for... well, nothing"

Ted, you're missing the point of the exercise. You are being terrorized. You are anxious about flying. You are facing a tough choice between possible sexual violation and taking a plane ride. And just look at all the professional molesters (they are getting hired, trained, uniforms, and paid to do exactly what you don't want a stranger doing to your children in a closed room) being employed at this time of economic donwturn. If just every now and then one of these safety inspectors can show signs of explosivese or contraband from their groping and proding ... they are national heroes and anyone who does not like to be abused or threatened with abuse is subject to public vilification.

* humor time *
anyone remember the men without hats song "safety dance"? How about a remake with blue gloves?
* okay back to reading folks confuse being terrorized with being protected from vaguely indentified groups of vaguely identified enemies by showing their socks and threats of poorly performed prostate exams.
Last edited by Jonathan Townsend on 11/16/10 02:17 PM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: who's terrorzing who?
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Postby Magic Newswire » 11/16/10 02:14 PM

Everyone has seen Angelina Jolie naked. Now, Jennifer Aniston, thats a whole different game.

Off the topic a bit, but the film that they just finished filming here on my property is the next Jennifer Anniston film "Wanderlust" and it will be the first movie in which he appears topless.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/16/10 02:17 PM

"Jennifer Anniston film "Wanderlust" and it will be the first movie in which he appears topless."

he? Is that why not totally nude?
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Postby David Alexander » 11/16/10 02:49 PM

The simple solution for bombs in luggage is building bomb-proof luggage containers but the airlines don't want to spend the money and accept the liability so they have the government x-ray everything going on board hoping to spot the bad stuff.

Chances are this will be a boon for Amtrak but almost certainly they won't be adding additional trains to accommodate those who no long wish to be sexually molested in order to fly somewhere.

Lawsuits will go nowhere on this as flying is not a right and the airlines and government can lay down whatever rules they want.

What's also interesting is that once you are in the airport security line you may NOT leave or else you can be subject to a civil suit and a $10,000 fine. Your choice is be x-rayed, groped, or sued and fined.

Up in the mountains of Afghanistan I'm sure Osama bin Laden is have a great laugh over this as its another sign that he won.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/16/10 02:59 PM

Any cases yet where the "inspector" implanted anything?
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 11/16/10 03:06 PM

Can I wait 20 minutes before her movie goes to cable? :)


BTW Osama is really laughing when he talks another putz into blow himself/herself up at a near by mosque. That worked well in the Pacific too. ;)
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Postby Bob Cunningham » 11/16/10 03:06 PM

"Any cases yet where the "inspector" implanted anything?"

During a security inspection, a former TSA employee was planted a white powder on at least two passengers as a joke.

http://news.travel.aol.com/2010/11/05/t ... ank-twice/
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