Wednesday, December 29, 2010

John Pistole: Enemy of the Constitution

Jon Deniro forwarded me the following letter that he sent to John Pistole at TSA headquarters on December 16th.

John Pistole,

I have never in my life written to any member or employee of the US government before today. Your recent actions and arrogant refusal to 1) act in accord within the framework of the Constitutional restraint on governmental invasion of the Peoples' rights and/or 2) abide by the wishes of the American people have forced me to get involved. I swore a solemn oath, many years ago, and reaffirmed it on more than one occasion to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies, foreign and domestic." You sir, are an enemy of the Constitution -- as are all employees of the TSA who stand with you or otherwise acquiesce to your instructions.

The very fact that you and other members of the TSA have been caught outright lying to the American public is irrefutable proof that your actions are criminal, immoral, unconstitutional, and inherently anti-American. Misleading and outright lying to the public to instill fear so that you may advance your agenda is by definition an act of terrorism. If your actions were in any way justifiable, you would not need dishonesty to gain submission from the masses.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Woman denied visit to see family for holidays

If this doesn't convince you that this is about theater and power, not security, you have had too much Kool-Aid:

To the various passengers at the end who say that this is needed for safety, I pose this question: How does denying air travel to a middle-aged rape victim with a pacemaker make you safer? Although I deny the validity of the TSA, metal detectors, and x-ray scans of baggage, it is telling that TSA refuses to use hand-held wands anymore (please see Toni Litsinger's letter on this site confirming this policy).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

US Air: pretending I'm a satisfied customer

I recently received these two letters from US Air. So, they've now responded to my third and fourth letters, but, as you can see, they have ignored my request for further accommodations for my trip.

In the meantime, my roundabout trip to avoid the scanners was extremely inconvenient. My husband says the millimeter wave scanners were indeed in use at BWI, but he, himself, avoided a scan or custody search.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A miniscule victory

Word is that Congress may actually do something about the TSA overstepping its bounds. Don't expect too much, though. Like airport security, it is likely to be a lot of theater. Ron Paul's bill to make TSA agents culpable will be helpful in bringing down morale and breaking the organization from the inside out. It's even possible that Jason Chaffetz's oversight of DHS will play out well - he authored the "Chaffetz amendment" prohibiting TSA scanners before there was a public outcry over them Of course, his amendment failed, which is why Congress is to blame for the TSA abuses and I am not hopeful that much will change.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The safest plane last Christmas

Apparently, there is hope that a significant number of airplanes each day that have an armed citizen to protect us. For instance, last Christmas (year of the underbomber), a law-abiding oil executive forgot to remove his loaded Glock from his laptop bag when he went to the airport. Poor, overworked TSA agents... it's so hard to sit in front of a computer monitor all day and try to detect guns. That's why they need more power, of course. Invading our privacy is the only way to keep us free and safe!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If flying is "a privilege," what about public transportation?

To all of the commenters (here and elsewhere) who say that those of us who are anti-scanner should stop flying and shut-up, because it's a privilege for us to be allowed to complete a lawful private contract we made with an airline: do you think it's in line with the Constitution to have random searches on buses and trains?

As I wrote over at
A couple of years ago, there were threats of random searches of bags for DC Metro train riders (a la NYC and Boston), but I never heard anything more. Today, the TSA started random checks of customers’ bags and this apparently affects both the rail and bus lines for the DC area. It’s good to hear an uproar about this on the MSM, as they point out that there are petitions being filed against this action. But the quotes from the Metro officials are status quo:
“It’s good to vary your security posture,” he said, noting that transit agencies in New York, New Jersey and Boston have successfully carried out random checks.

The screening will be conducted before passengers pay to enter the rail system or board a bus, and customers who refuse the inspections will be “free to leave,” Taborn said. But there is a possibility that those who decline screening will be questioned.
Translation: We like to keep law-abiding citizens on their toes. And if they show resistance to this tyranny by peacefully walking away, we reserve the right to make their lives miserable.

Medical notification cards

This is just silly. The TSA has created special medical notification cards so that people with various medical issues can convey their needs or concerns to a TSO in advance of being screened. This new bureaucratic measure has been implemented in response to the sad story of a cancer survivor with a colostomy bag ending up covered in urine because the jerk feeling him up did not care to listen to the passenger's pleas to be careful.

One of the funniest quotes here is:
Some doctors, patient advocacy groups and medical-equipment suppliers created their own notification cards and letters long before the TSA's new stricter security screening rules and enhanced pat-downs went into effect. But Linda Aukett of United Ostomy Associations of America  said: “Some TSOs (transportation screening officers) responded with ‘Don’t bother showing me that paper. Everyone has a printer. You could have forged that letter.’ So that had a lot to do with the TSA coming up with its own card.”
What forgery is the TSO concerned about? It's just a note to privately explain a medical condition!

And, as one of the commenters on this article said:
If the screener cannot understand the spoken words, why do you think he/she could understand the written ones.
I can't see how these ridiculous cards seem like a good idea to anyone. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Local protest in Austin

Austin is slated to get scanners at their airport sometime in the next year, but local residents are trying to stop it. Let's hope they succeed!

Commission opposes ABIA body scanners:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Scientific proof: security theater and dangerous lies

The forthcoming paper by UCSF researchers, Leon Kaufman and Joseph Carlson, got some attention from the right-wing media because it showed that the TSA scanners are not effective. But the findings of this paper are much more significant. It illustrates the shockingly opaque scientific review of these machines. Despite having access to only sparse information, these scientists have shown that the claim that the backscatter machines "do not penetrate the skin" is patently false. The full text of their research is already publicly available at Springer, but, because I think this is so important, I have highlighted some key points below.

Foiling backscatter scanners

The UCSF scientists performed some theoretical calculations in order to assess the capabilities of x-ray backscatter scanners that are in use at a growing number of airports. There are two types of scanners used: the (more abundant) x-ray backscatter and the millimeter wave scanners. This paper exclusively evaluated the x-ray scanners, not the millimeter wave scanners. They relied on information available at the manufacturers' websites to compile specs for their computations. There are two slightly different x-ray backscatter technologies being used such that the energy of the x-ray beams vary. For that reason, all of the calculations performed were repeated at the two different energies used, and the authors refer to them as simply "high" and "low" in their graphs and images. (Most of the images in this blog post are linked from the authors' paper.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just in time for the holidays

A quick web search turns up news that scanners are now in Ontario (California, not Canada), Chicago-Midway, and Houston-Hobby. Perhaps now would be a good time to watch this video (and at least laugh at the encroaching tyranny):

H/T Glen Litsinger for the video

We Won't Fly Day

We Won't Fly has set Dec 23rd as "We Won't Fly Day." As they say:
Now, every day is We Won’t Fly Day. The government is not listening. The airline and travel industries are our last shots. We must open their hearts and show them our consumer power so they’ll get on our side. Together we have an excellent chance to replace the scanners and gropers with real security. Without the airlines on our side, further begging of congress critters is an exercise in futility.
But December 23rd is special. December 23rd is a space for creative conscious-raising on an international stage. Our goal this time is educational meetups at 50 airports in the US, 5 in Canada and 1 in the UK. We’ll support anyone who wants to organize an outreach, no matter where you may be located. Even airports without scanners are critical. Airports of all sizes worldwide are tightly connected. Ultimately, many will face the possibility of being scanned or groped. We need to reach everyone.
I recommend not flying at all in the future and telling the airlines that you would use why. Education is very important here as more people need to be made aware of what the scanners and frisks entail.

Disclaimer: I will be flying on Dec 23rd. It will be my last trip by air until the TSA is disbanded and airlines take back their responsibility to provide their own security.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Explaining the TSA

Chris Waidele explains that the TSA policies are absurd, and, yet, the public continues to accept them as essential. An excerpt:

When forced to confront contradictions, we humans can come up with some of the most creative, roundabout stories to explain them away. So, as you see, all that is needed is a believable conclusion, and our minds do the rest.
This is why we obediently put up with actions that are patently ridiculous, like subjecting ourselves to fondling by the TSA. We accept the conclusion that it is for our own protection and work backward by filling in the justifications.
A more accurate narrative is that any terrorist with the most basic intelligence will know the security procedures and find a way to circumvent or avoid them. More importantly, total security is an illusion: it would require ever-increasing intrusions into our private affairs by people who could become, in real terms, much more of a threat than terrorists.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Roman-style privileged class?

The cynic in me views Clinton's statement over the weekend that TSA policies will be reviewed as yet another step towards a privileged flying class. High-ranking officials of the state do not go through regular airport security. Pilots have been agitating - and it looks like they'll get - a special pass to avoid scanners and frisks. Next up are ambassadors, and then maybe certain federal employees, state legislators, ...

Monday, December 13, 2010

The TSA is already acting illegally

Denis Drew argues that what the TSA is doing can not be reconciled with existing law. An excerpt:
Both same-sex naked viewing and same-sex private part touching conflict with the justification previously cited by courts for okaying so-called administrative (warrant-less) searches: relatively limited invasion of privacy (sobriety checkpoints as far as it's been stretched). 17 out of 17 TSA employees out of the 20 who answered a query from a travel site survey proclaimed their disgust with being forced to perform overly personal pat-downs (at last count drawing 819 mostly disgruntled comments).
He also blogs regularly on the topic of the TSA.

No longer a frequent flyer

Kishin Thadani shares his letter to Continental airlines:

December 11, 2010
RE: Your loyal customer (OnePass member ########) & the T.S.A.
Continental Airlines, Inc.
900 Grand Plaza Drive NHCCR
Houston, TX 77067-4323
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to confide in you about a decision that I have made.  You see, I have decided to stop flying.  My last flight was in August 2010 with Continental Airlines and I do not have any intentions of flying again in the foreseeable future.  In fact, I recently changed my travel plans and I have decided to drive over 1,200 miles to attend my best friend's wedding in Florida rather than to hop on a direct three hour flight.  As I am sure that you are aware, Newark Airport (EWR) is a Continental Airlines hub and you have daily non-stop service to several airports in south Florida.  You may then be curious as to what would compel someone like me to forego the time convenience and cost effectiveness of a Continental Airlines flight and instead make such a person opt for an 18 hour long drive.
Well, allow me to expound on the reasoning behind my decision as well as that of others who share my feelings.
The outstanding reason for my decision can be attributed to the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration, or simply the TSA.  Specifically, it is the TSA's policies, procedures, and practices that are dissuading me from ever wanting to fly again.  Ever since the TSA introduced what they call "Advanced Imaging Technology" x-ray machines (a.k.a. the naked body scanners) in the airports, there has been a rightful outrage over their use and abuse. 

Crossing paths with US Air

I just wanted to post this letter from United US Air (below). It is apparently a response to my third letter, not my most recent letter. However, Ms. Kerman did not address my concerns at all, and seems to be responding to what I wrote in my second letter. Very confusing, isn't it? The delay between letters this time is much longer, so I will wait longer this time to hear their response to my most recent letter.

Oh, and no word from Orbitz, yet.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sign on the dotted line

This is a great quote from Donna D'Errico:
"I must have overlooked the clause in both my Playboy and 'Baywatch' contracts stating that once appearing in that magazine, or on that show, I would forever be subject to being seen naked live and in person by anyone, at anytime, under any conditions, whether I agree to it or not, and for free," she said sarcastically.

"I posed for Playboy 15 years ago. I was on 'Baywatch' 13 years ago. Both of those were controlled environments, with proper lighting, makeup, etc., and were jobs. I contractually agreed to do both of those jobs. I could have stopped or changed my mind at any time. None of those conditions are present when TSA decides for you that you will consent to being scanned or felt up, or you simply won't be allowed your constitutional right to travel from one place to another freely."
Followed by this zinger:
It's a misuse of power and authority, and as much a personal violation as a Peeping Tom. The difference is that Peeping Toms can have charges pressed against them.

H/T Becky Akers

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

You can't call this woman insensitive

I have been accused on this blog of being insensitive to victims of 9/11. Of course, it is expected that the mere mention of the phrase "9/11" is a debate-stopper. Well, this woman lost her husband in a plane hijacking, and she still opposes these tactics.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is TSA an arm of the DEA?

First, Willie Nelson is arrested after being stopped by a Border Patrol agent for drug possession. Then rapper Kurtis Blow gets a ticket for possession at LAX. There's no argument that can be made here that these events made transportation in the US more secure. However, they both entail warrantless searches.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Southwest's response changes a little

Southwest responded to JC Warren's message. Note that it's a little different from earlier responses.

Dear Jc,
Thank you for contacting us in regard to the recent changes to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening procedures.  Without a doubt, we fully acknowledge how vital your feedback is to our operation, and can assure you that your dissatisfaction has been taken to heart.
Although we do not have any direct influence over these Federal directives, we have made very careful notations of your feedback which will be summarized and indexed for additional review by our Senior Leaders.
If you would like to share your concerns directly with the TSA, please utilize the hyperlink below:

We wish you all the best over the coming months, and sincerely hope to have an opportunity to welcome you on board in the near future.

Sincerely, Charity, Southwest Airlines
The file reference number for your e-mail is 1126815811.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010


One in Denver Federal Court, filed by Gary Fielder, and another in Massachusetts, filed by two Harvard Law students. The second article says that there are also lawsuits in Florida and Arkansas from passengers, and two lawsuits from pilots. And, of course, EPIC's motions are still underway.

I think it is unlikely that any of these lawsuits will find against TSA/DHS, and there are some high-profile law professors who agree, but I'll root for them anyway!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Which side will Orbitz and US Air choose?

Will these companies stay on the side of those who are wrong - violating privacy and basic human rights - or the side of the angels, so to speak?

Orbitz Scanner Letter 3

Read the letter to US Air, as well:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Helpful MSM

From the TSA twitter account, I found this propaganda from CBS showing how benign TSA scanners are to our health. As I've said before, this is a secondary issue, but CBS's reporting here is abhorrent. I also found similar news stories titled "Body Scanners Don't Pose Health Risk." The doctor in the video should have his medical license revoked (if he is a medical doctor). There's just no medical data on this, and, I believe that most doctors feel that unnecessary radiation exposure is never warranted.

(I must say that I like the title of this report from an Australian news source: Full-body airport scanners 'as likely to kill you as terrorist bombs')

Sunday, November 28, 2010

TSA's response to Opt-Out Day

It's been hard to find confirmation of the reports that the scanners were turned off. However, typical Thanksgiving eve wait times at airports are long, and the news was reporting very short waits at all airports. I expected the TSA to schedule an abundance of screeners on Wednesday to get ready for the opt-outs. It seems that they did do that and also limited the number of scanners in use.

Aside from the anecdotal tweets, this article states that there were a lot of screeners and not many scanners at Newark. However, this article from Wired cites many airports with the scanners in use, but commenters note that there were two obvious lines so that passengers could choose whether to go through the scanner or metal detector. I wouldn't be surprised if the TSA reacted in this way to the protest to be able to claim that there is widespread public support for their security methods, but it's impossible to tell if this is what actually happened.

By the way, I'd love if some disgruntled TSOs would start becoming whistle-blowers. I, for one, promise to protect anyone's identity who requests it. But, if you don't trust me, there's always Julian Assange.

UPDATE: NY Times has a good critique of the data.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Where is the feminist outrage?

I posted just the other day about how terrifying the TSA procedures are for sexual assault survivors. BB just sent me this link of another woman being left in tears because the scanner noticed an "anomaly": her menstrual pad. So, she was groped in her most private area after being scanned to make sure she wasn't a terrorist.

This seems to fit right in with Gary North's 1st rule of bureaucracy:
Some bureaucrat will enforce a written rule in such a way as to make the rule and the bureaucracy seem either ridiculous, tyrannical, or both.
Shouldn't the women of The View be sensitive to this type of invasion?

Life imitates art

The maker of Smile! You're on Candid Camera did his version of the porno-scanners about 10 years ago. It's interesting to read his take on Americans' perspectives on authority.

Also, this clip from Airplane! predicted the porno-scanners decades in advance (NB: nudity, of course). Link via LRC.

Friday, November 26, 2010

December 1st protest

From Shut Down The Airports:

December 1st, 2010

The day we stand up to the government and demand they keep their hands off our bodies is Wednesday, December 1st, 2010.

On this day we will:
  1. Take a day off from work - unpaid, if necessary - YES, IT IS WORTH IT. Do not be fooled - your civil liberties are worth more than a day's wage. Your children will look up to you for the stand you make for your and their freedoms. IT IS WORTH IT!
  2. Be non-violent - it worked once for MLK, it can again for us.
  3. Take your family/friends/co-workers and go to the nearest airport. Find a nice parking spot and ignore it - park in the road. Even better, park where the cops patrol (departures) and walk right by them. Don't worry about your car getting towed - it would take days to tow all the cars that will be there. Don't park in neat lines - make it difficult for anyone to remove vehicles.
  4. Walk to the screening area and join the hundreds/thousands of other concerned Americans - tell the TSA in no uncertain terms that we will not allow them to view us naked or sexually molest us any longer.
  5. You may want to take drinking water or some snacks. You may want to take signs that you can hold up to voice your displeasure (nothing that can be misconstrued as a weapon, though.) If the News Media take video or phots, show them that you are an ordinary American fed up with the TSA and their antics.
  6. Be nice, but don't move. And don't let anyone through the line or the machines. You can display civil disobedience by laying down on the floor and blocking the machines/walkways.
  7. Take cameras and camera phones - if you have any interaction with the TSA or Real Law Enforcement, be sure to videotape everything.
    In public places there is no expectation of privacy and video-recording (with sound) is explicitly allowed by the Supreme Court.

What's the big deal?

I can't say how many times I've heard the media try to marginalize the outburst against scanners with some comment like "What's the big deal?," implying that only the rare prude would object to being seen naked or felt-up against their will. I don't think this tactic will work in the long run - I have friends and family from the left, right, center, the politically outspoken and the apolitical all indicate outrage over the scanners.

Vedran Vuk sent me an email noting that the most recent gallop poll only asked frequent flyers about the scanners, accounting for only 23% of Americans. So 71% of 23% think the scanners are A-OK. The media should be careful about relying on the opinions of 16% of the population in their smear campaign painting anti-scanner mentality as belonging only to fringe groups. Meanwhile, there's a Zogby poll that says that most Americans oppose the TSA security measures.

One group that the media is not mentioning are those who have been sexually assaulted in the past. This article tells the story of such a person who finds going through security to be very traumatic now. (Note: I'm not 100% sure the story is true, and it is impossible to verify, but the point remains that this type of thing is statistically likely to happen.) Thanks to Dennis Drew for the link.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Some TSA humor

A reader sends along this video and says "Satire is always an effective statement of rebellion to shake up the system."

And a friend sends along this link of Adam Savage's (of Mythbusters fame) experience with security theater (NB: bad language):

Only some of us had to submit, so it's okay.

My husband sent me this link the day before yesterday. Now that we know that yesterday's protest did not cause delays, it's interesting to look at it again. He commented:
[It] suggests that 80% of security lanes won't have scanners.  For most people the procedure at the security checkpoint will be business as usual: remove your shoes, belt, jewelery, empty your pockets, fluids in small bottles, zip-lock bags, no nail clippers, etc. Therefore the furor is overblown, and when the other 80% of security lanes get the scanner and when the full-body pat-down becomes the norm, well then once again the security checkpoint procedure will be business as usual.

Calm down people, the government is not forcing us all to submit, it's just forcing some of us to submit.  It's not really a violation of constitutional rights unless it affects a simple majority, right?
One of my personal goals with speaking out (using this website and in other ways) was to educate Americans about this injustice. The "overblown" opt-out was on the news at every turn for the last two days. That's a win!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reminder: National Opt-out Day is Tomorrow!

Opt for the pat down if you're flying tomorrow.

Someone send me an email saying that an acquaintance who is a TSO says that TSA/DHS is telling the screeners that this will all blow over in a month or two. I firmly believe it won't - prove me right by making a big stink tomorrow!

Delta inches forward

NPR reported this morning that Delta will be giving refunds on non-refundable tickets on a case-by-case basis in response to the scanner backlash.

They also report that American, Continental, and US Air are standing by their no-refund policy.

When this whole thing blows over, are you going to choose Delta or US Air? Me, too.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm very nervous

John Tyner says that he was trying his best to avoid a confrontation at the airport, but wanted to be prepared for the worst. That's why he turned on the video recording on his phone before he put his bag through screening. Before that, he checked online to make sure that SAN didn't have scanners (and the TSA's website said it didn't). He also tried to get into the metal detector line, but events transpired against him.

This is why I'm very nervous.

I'm doing everything I can to avoid the scanner and warrantless pre-custodial search. I will not submit to this, and I will not allow my daughter to be scanned or groped. But I promised our family that we'd be back for Christmas, so, while I'm speaking out to US Air and Orbitz to get publicity for the existence of the scanners, I'm going very far out of my way to avoid a confrontation at the airport.

But these stories keep coming in. What if the metal detector goes off or I am randomly selected for a pre-custodial search? What if they try to take my daughter from me to give her a pre-custodial search? When I refuse to follow orders, what if they arrest me? If you wonder why I wrote that "I was in tears," it's because I keep imagining things like this or this. Or worse.

I really do wish that US Air and Orbitz and the rest of the gang would put up a fight here. Ground their planes. Pilots and flight attendants on strike. Then the rest of us could quit worrying about how we're going to continue to see our loved ones without having an anxiety attack.

Update on US Air and Orbitz

I have received no response to my letters last week. Does this mean that they have no intention of trying to retain me as a customer?

I've used Orbitz almost exclusively for my travel needs for the last 10 years. Good-bye, Orbitz!

As a bi-coastal family, I've flown cross-country at least twice a year for these last 10 years. The airport that I fly into is served only by US Air and United, although I've been known to frequent Southwest and Jet Blue in the past. So far, I've been nonplussed by responses from all of these carriers.

Because I made a promise to my husband's family that they would get to spend Christmas with my daughter this year, I will be making every effort to get her to California. I truly hope that I am not forced to make a decision between our privacy and our vacation. But I can see no reason to continue to support companies that show such little disregard for the my family's fundamental rights.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

John Tyner on Wait, Wait!

The first question of "Who's Carl This Time" was the now infamous "If you touch my junk..."

We must make sure this issue doesn't go away - we got our 15 minutes, and now we need to keep going.

Write your airports, too!

Steve Smith writes:
People are calling the airlines to register their complaints about the peeping and the groping. They should also call their local airport authority. These are (I suppose) quasi-governmental bodies, but their first job is to keep people flying through their airport.

In my case, I know that my local airport is on the TSA list of airports with the full-body scanners. However, I called the authority's number anyway and left this message (it being before business hours), with my name and phone and a request that someone get back to me:

"Hi, this is Steve Smith. I live in Chapel Hill and my number is _________ .  I understand that RDU [Raleigh-Durham airport] has those full-body scanners. Please let me know for sure, as I don't want to fly from there if you do.  Also, do you happen to know if, say, the Greensboro airport [about 50 miles distant] has them yet? I might fly from there instead. Thanks."

When/if someone calls me back and confirms that RDU does have the porno-tron scanners, I will strongly suggest that they opt out of the TSA's "services" if they don't wish to lose customers like me.
I fully support this. See also Tom DiLorenzo's open letter to Birmingham and Atlanta airport administrators.

Senator Leahy: We'll be watching

Kevin McElroy forwarded Sen Leahy's response. For those who feel the political route will be more effective, here's what you can expect:
Dear Mr. McElroy:

Thank you for contacting me about the use of body scanners in airports and new security screening procedures.  I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue, and understand your concerns.

After September 11, 2001, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) implemented a pilot program to test whole-body scanners in airports before they were put into widespread use.  In October 2009, the TSA ordered 150 whole-body scanners to be deployed in airports across the nation, and in March 2010, the TSA purchased an additional 450 scanners that are currently being deployed nationwide.  In the wake of this deployment, many Americans have expressed concerns over personal privacy as the whole-body scanners are used to screen passengers, and the security of those captured images.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Delta brushes off Glenn Jacobs

Glenn Jacobs wrote the following message to Delta regarding his travel plans, and got the standard response (scroll down to see their response):
I am writing to express my concern over the TSA's body
scanners and new pat down protocols. Since the creation of the TSA, I
have avoided flying whenever possible. Unfortunately, due to the nature
of my business, this is not often possible. However, the TSA has now
gone beyond the pale. While I must still fly for business, I will not
allow my family to be subjected to this sort of treatment, so flying for
pleasure is out. In addition, I am actively encouraging everyone I know
to avoid flying as much as possible. Delta runs a great business, and I
have always felt like a valued customer when on flying on it. However,
there are many frequent travelers who feel the same way that I do. The
TSA has not only failed to make us safer, it has become the bane of our
traveling experience.
Delta's response:

US Air, will you protect your pregnant customers?

Elliott McElroy wrote to US Air earlier this week about her upcoming Thanksgiving travel. She has not heard from them, yet, and has asked me to post her letter here:

November 15, 2010
US Airways
ATTN: Customer Relations
4000 E Sky Harbor Blvd
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Dear Sir or Madam:
I’m writing to express my concerns about the newly implemented security procedures at airports around the country, and how my family intends to respond to them.
I recently purchased roundtrip airplane tickets for myself and my husband to travel between Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Philadelphia International Airport before and after the Thanksgiving holiday. My online check-in number is XXXXXX and the tickets were purchased through At the time of purchasing the tickets, I was not made aware that PHL would be using AIT scanners. 
My husband and I object to submitting ourselves through the scanning technology. I am not convinced of its safety, nor am I convinced that our privacy will be respected. Simply because the TSA website reports that the scanning technology will pose no threat to my health does not mean that I will blindly believe the information presented, especially in light of the fact that I will be 18 weeks pregnant at the time of planned travel.

Goodbye delicious peanuts

K Moon Howe writes to Southwest (and preempts their cookie-cutter response, so this will be interesting):

Dear Southwest,

I, along with my entire family, have been loyal customers for the past 20 years.  I have enjoyed my passenger experiences and appreciated your efficiency, accessibility, and customer service.

It is with regret that I must say goodbye, unless and until the checkpoint procedures are greatly revised and improved.  I am well aware that Southwest does not determine procedure; TSA does.  Please do not direct me to the TSA website, as I have already gone through that channel.  My purpose in sending this note to you is to let you know I valued your company and the service you provided.  I am disappointed that I cannot continue to offer you my patronage, as  I cannot in good conscience let my minor child bee seen virtual-reality nude, and if an adult traumatizes her via inappropriate touching I will be broke anyway after the legal penalties that will be the result of me beating the crap out of them.
Please use your position as a customer service-oriented, successful carrier to stand up for your loyal customers.

Oh yeah, thanks for all the peanuts and Coca-Cola too.

K Moon Howe
see Rapid Rewards # above

Hawaiian Airlines responds

Ryan Marshall writes: "Finally got a response from Hawaiian Airlines. Your basic cookie-cutter response... disappointing."
November 18, 2010

Mr. Ryan Marshall
RE:     Contact Ref. #1011297668

Dear Mr. Marshall:

This is in response to your email received by our office on November 12,

We understand you are disappointed with the new security measures by the
Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  Although we understand your
concern, regretfully, any issues dealing with security at the airports are
referred directly to TSA.  Please visit their website at
<> to file your complaint directly with them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A political route

Allan Sanford, a reader of Stop TSA Scanners, is putting together a petition. You can sign it here.

"Pull the Plug NOW" Petition

Honorable Members of the Senate of the United States of America
We, the undersigned people of the United States, demand that you exercise your oversight powers to immediately stop the use of full body scanners and pat-down techniques currently being employed at airports across the country by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, for the following reasons:
  • Such scans and pat-downs directly violate the Fourth Amendment guarding against unnecessary search and seizure

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"I won't be home for Christmas"

From this website:

So what is I Won’t Be Home For Christmas?

It’s a simple act that you, an American, can do to send the message, loud and clear to the government, that we will no longer tolerate this vile foolishness. This is a peaceful protest that can crush a tyrannical bureaucracy.
During the second half of December, from midnight December 15, 2010 to the countdown on New Year’s Eve, don’t fly anywhere. Drive, take a bus or a train, do anything but fly to your destination. Or better yet, just stay home if you can.
Continue reading here

Pistole before the storm

This interview with the new head of TSA is from about a month ago. Note that obscuring information from the public is intentional (for "national security"). When asked whether scanners should completely replace metal detectors, he says:
What I don't want to see happen is terrorists going on a website and seeing where there is AIT and where there's walk-through metal detectors and using, like on Christmas Day, a non-metallic explosive device through one of those airports that does not have AIT. So that's my concern.
And when asked about privacy concerns, the fact that this is illegal, Unconstitutional, immoral, and wrong (take your pick) is not on his radar:
Well, trying to reassure the public that first, it's optional. They don't have to go through it. Of course they will receive a thorough patdown. The person seeing the image never sees the person. We don't retain the image. I think that addresses most of the privacy concerns.
Here's the point: This is not about what is best for you, or even what is best for the public. If it were, there would be some more sensitivity and an acknowledgment that there should be transparency on what and where the scanners are.

I am not surprised by this, but I just want to make sure that you understand that his is about power and money for the few in charge over the many who fund this operation against our will. Don't fall for the national security, the terrorists are under every bed, rhetoric. Cui bono?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What part of "Goodbye" didn't you understand, Jet Blue?

Marilyn Masiker received her form-letter response from Jet Blue, reprinted below. Keep scrolling to read her affirmation of her rights, and what she expects Jet Blue to do about it.
Hello Marilyn,

Thank you for contacting JetBlue Airways. We appreciate you taking the time to write in to
us and understand your concerns with changes to the TSA security process in airports. Your
comments will be passed along to our Leadership.

The Transportation Security Administration is responsible for all facets of security. The TSA
organization is government run and is responsible for ensuring that no dangerous items are
brought into the main airport waiting area, or onboard the aircraft. JetBlue does not employ any
persons that work for the TSA.

Don't ignore us, Southwest!

Emily wrote to Southwest telling them "that I have been a loyal customer and been happy with their service, but have canceled my scheduled flight out of BWI airport and will no longer be flying with them until TSA's full body imaging scanners are removed and enhanced pat-downs stop.  I requested that they lobby the government for changes."

Here's Southwest's underwhelming reply:

Dear Emily,
Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate the opportunity to address your concern regarding one of the screening processes used by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

It's important to explain that the implementation of imaging technology was determined solely by the TSA and not by the airlines. The TSA has a responsibility to ensure the security of the traveling public. However, they also recognize that there is a delicate balance between privacy and security; therefore, imaging technology is optional for all passengers. Please visit the TSA’s web site for more information regarding this screening method.

Delta keeps trying to wash their hands, ...

... but Steven St.Jean calls Delta out. See yesterday's posts where I support abolition of the TSA and, as a route to get there, airports kicking the TSA out. Steven's message to Delta is right on point - they keep kicking the can, but it is their right and duty to protect their own property.
Dear Ms. Sanders,

This is simply not true:

> These procedures are conducted by the Transportation Security
> Administration (TSA) and are required by federal law.

The law that created the TSA gave airports the right to opt out of the TSA program altogether.  That's right, the airports which Delta supports can legally overthrow the hated TSA.  I draw your attention to this news report:

If Delta cares for the safety, the dignity, and the rights of its passengers, it will urge airports to exercise this right and throw the perverts out.

Steven St.Jean
SkyMiles #6230137876
Delta's response to Steven's first letter is here.

(Regarding the Washington Examiner article, I do not at all endorse the "GOP plan" of contractors on the federal payroll. Like the choice between scanners and pat-downs, the choice between a socialist TSA or a fascist TSA is no choice at all.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Political action

Many (all?) airports are owned and "operated" by state or municipal governments. I like the idea of using federalism to kick the TSA out of these airports. Here's a petition along those lines that you can sign. (I'd like it to me more bold, but it's a start.)

H/T to Brian R.

The solution

Art Carden says it all: abolish the TSA.

Security Theater

This is an older story about the security theater. The take-home point is that the TSA is always closing yesterday's loopholes and trying to catch the stupid terrorist, at substantial costs financially and to freedom. It is notable that the no-fly-cross-check vulnerability - the one that was exploited by the underbomber and has since been "closed" - is in this article, pre-underbomber.

Airport AIT information

In reference to my post about the TSA website, I'd like to pass on a list being updated by an energetic soul over at FlyerTalk forums of the status of airports and scanners. Please note that airports that are listed without scanners are still not guaranteed to be safe, but that all of the airports listed with scanners are accurate.

If you have any first-hand info about airports, please contact the maintainer of that thread, or put a comment here and I'll contact the maintainer.

I'm reprinting the current list here:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why am I doing this?

I got the following email and, since it is civilly written, I wanted to answer it. Because others may have similar questions (there are some questions along these lines in the comments section on this blog), I'm including the original email and my response in [brackets].

As a frequent flyer, it is with great interest that I read your recent post and open letter to US Airways regarding the body scanners, your ticket change and your rental car expense. As a fellow blogger, I wanted to share some of my own thoughts with you.

Firstly, I am definitely on your side in that I despise the scanners. I have absolute privacy concerns, but I also have safety concerns, as millimeter waves (as you probably know) have not yet been proven to be completely safe. I avoid them whenever possible. This means that if I am in a situation where I have to choose, I go for the pat-down. It's not fun, and for a child, it's certainly a Hobson's choice.
 [This goes beyond "not fun" for me. It is absolutely wrong. Could be because I'm a woman that this bothers me more than you, although I realize that not all women agree with me.]

TSA website is not forthcoming

When I first read John Tyner's story, I thought he must have missed something on the TSA site, because I knew that there were scanners at SAN. However, I just checked the TSA website and John is correct - San Diego is not on the list of airports with scanners. In retrospect, I knew of SAN's scanners because a friend of mine just flew out of there and told me they had them.

So - be careful! Before you make flight arrangements, check with the TSA and the airport you are flying out of and get some confirmation on the scanner situation. I just emailed Norfolk's airport the following:

I plan on flying out of your airport in December. You are not listed on the TSA website as having AIT scanners, nor are you on the list to get the scanners soon. However, I understand that their website may not be up-to-date. Can you please confirm the status of Norfolk with respect to the installation of these scanners?


Kathryn Muratore

Anonymous police officer to take a stand

An anonymous commenter wrote on another website:
I’m a police officer in Arizona planning to take my wife and son to Austria where my wife is from next month.

I will not identify myself as a cop as we opt out of the body scan. I will tell the TSA screeners not to touch mine or my family’s private parts.

If it happens I will make the felony sexual abuse arrest and that TSA worker will be registering as a sex offender for life after their prison time is over.
H/T Glen Litsinger

Sexual Assault in Dayton

A blogger named Erin writes about being sexually assaulted in Dayton this weekend. Note that Dayton does not have scanners, and it is unclear why Erin was frisked. An excerpt:
She patted my left arm, my right arm, my upper back and my lower back. She then said, “I need to reach in and feel along the inside of your waistband.”

She felt along my waistline, moved behind me, then proceeded to feel both of my buttocks. She reached from behind in the middle of my buttocks towards my vagina area.

She did not tell me that she was going to touch my buttocks, or reach forward to my vagina area.

She then moved in front of my and touched the top and underneath portions of both of my breasts.

She did not tell me that she was going to touch my breasts.

She then felt around my waist. She then moved to the bottoms of my legs.

She then felt my inner thighs and my vagina area, touching both of my labia.

She did not tell me that she was going to touch my vagina area or my labia.

She then told me that I could put my shoes on and I asked if I could pick up the baby, she replied Yes.
Erin's contention is that this is sexual assault because she was not informed of the procedures and because the TSO did not follow standard operating procedure.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

From a frequent flyer

Mr. Richards writes to say: "I have been a frequent flyer using exclusively Delta. I recently sent them the following..."
Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to inform you that I will not be flying again  because I no longer am comfortable with flying.
Given the fact that I would be treated as a criminal instead of a customer by the TSA and DHS for merely traveling using a common mode of transportation makes me very upset. To move about in ones own country is a fundamental right of anyone in a free society. And to be free from unreasonable search as per the 4th Amendment is another

Dear American, Southwest and United...

Jim Stacey sent the following note to American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines:
Good Morning,

I am traveling to Denver, CO from Dallas, TX in December to attend my son’s graduation from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO.

I will not be flying.  I refuse to be subjected to the gross violation of privacy that is currently occurring during passenger screening.  I will not submit to either a trip in the scanner nor will I submit to a groping by the TSA.

The ticket price for this trip was $338 including taxes and fees.

I would much rather drive that be subjected to the humiliation of the current rules for passenger screening.

I know that Southwest Airlines doesn’t make the rules for screening, but I don’t care.  You deserve to lose customers and business for allowing the TSA to fondle your customers.

Best Regards,

Delta: You have some explaining to do

Logan Hertz submitted the following on Delta's website:
I was planning to fly from Atlanta (ATL) to Dulles (IAD) to visit my family for Thanksgiving; however, since both Dulles and Atlanta airports now have porno-scanners installed, I will be making the 10-hour drive instead.  Why is Delta allowing TSA (Total Sexual Assault) agents to strip-search, violate, humiliate, and sexually assault its passengers?  Delta airlines leadership should have the courage and strength to stand up to the TSA molestors and protect their passengers' dignity.  With all the outrage directed against the TSA, Delta Airlines could stand to gain significant customer loyalty by being the first to publicly stand up to the TSA.  I personally pledge to fly only Delta from now on if Delta airlines will be the first airline to at least protest these measures (if not actively resist them or simply shut down until they are changed).

In your response, please explain how Delta will act to protect the dignity, privacy, and personal property of its customers from the criminal TSA agents.

To the St. Louis journalists

I lover this letter from Roland Walkenhorst to his local TV stations (KMOV, KSDK and KTVI). He says: "Following is the text of the email I sent to the three major St. Louis TV news departments. I suppose I should have kept it shorter, but I am furious about this and usually for me, furious = long!"
Why aren’t you investigating the disgusting violations of human rights and decency that are occurring daily at Lambert-St. Louis Airport? I am referring to the Transportation Security Administration’s full-body scanners that were rolled out last month.
Next time my 16-year-old daughter wants to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Orlando, these are my choices:
1.      Allow her to be herded through the Chertoff porn-scanner, with her naked image  transmitted to TSA goons hiding in a remote room
2.      Subject her to a humiliating public molestation
3.      Tell her she has to stay home
Which do you recommend?

Kill them with humor

Stephan Kinsella and Mike Rozeff urge the use of humor in battling the TSA. Here's a great example: a traveler who was fed up with emptying his pockets now just takes off his pants and puts them through the scanner. Underneath, he's got underwear with a sarcastic message ("I <heart> TSA").

For those of you who plan to opt-out next time, here's my twist on it. When the TSO starts the "We've got an opt-out" echo, start stripping. You can have a bathing suit on so that there's no way you'll get an indecency citation. Or maybe get a message printed on your undies. The "I <heart> TSA" is great because it can't possibly be construed as offensive. Other possibilities are "Frisk me for freedom" or "I love a good pat-down." Please share your ideas in the comments.

I won't fly Delta

Steven St. Jean wrote Delta to say:
Just writing to let you know I won't be flying with Delta again until the TSA drops its current policy of porno-scanning, irradiating and/or groping passengers. I will drive rather than tolerate that army of perverts.
And Delta responds (this is getting a little repetitive, Delta!):

Goodbye, Jet Blue

Marilyn Masiker shares her open letter to Jet Blue's CEO and CFO (which she also submitted using their online comment form):
An Open Letter to David Barger and Ed Barnes (CEO and CFO of Jet BLUE Airlines)

Dear David Barger and Ed Barnes:

November 12, 2010

I have recently read that TSA is implementing their Enhanced Imaging or the alternative "opt-out" sexually invasive pat down option in both the Buffalo International Airport and in Boston Logan Airport. And those passengers who wish to board an airplane from those locations on November 19, 2010 may have to face that choice.

First, I would like to say that I have flown Jet blue almost exclusively since I first got on one of your flights. My sisters told me to try your airline over 9 years ago. Everything about flying Jet blue has always been comfortable, professional, and first rate. The people who work with your airline are great.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I won't be felt-up again, Jet Blue!

Toni Litsinger writes Jet Blue's CEO regarding her humiliating experience visiting her mother:

Antonia Litsinger

November 9, 2010

Mr. David J. Barger
President, CEO
JetBlue Airlines
118-29 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375

Dear Mr. Barger:

I am writing to you to let you know that JetBlue was always my first choice for airlines.

I say “was” because I’m not longer willing to fly – neither on your airline nor any other.

The reason for this decision is that I was “groped” by one of the TSA agents in Long Beach airport while catching a flight back home to see my mother on the occasion of her 90th birthday. A St. Christopher- type medal that my mother gave me had inadvertently fallen out of my wallet which was in my pocket. A simple scan with a wand-type metal detector would have found, and did eventually find, the culprit medal that set off the alarm. Instead, I was pulled aside, in full view of other passengers and patted down like a common criminal. The groping did not find it – she finally ran the wand over me and we found it in a fold of my pocket. Although they used the “back of the hand” method at that time, I understand that now I am either going to have to go through a naked scanner or be forced to submit to a more brutal form of search at the hands of the TSA, regardless of whether or not something sets off the metal detector. That one experience told me that I would rather not subject myself to that more enhanced type of abuse.

Thanks, but No thanks, Delta.

Jeff sent this comment using Delta's on-line form and got a response in which they refuse to take responsibility:

I appreciate receiving the Delta Airline email notices, along with all of the excellent service I've received from Delta and its employees over many years.  In light of that, it saddens me to have to write this letter.  As a part of the airline industry, I find it unconscionable that your company has remained silent on the TSA's increasing violation of your customers' basic human rights.

I don't feel the need to list extensively all of the violations against the persons or property of air travelers, none of whom have been charged with a crime.  We are all familiar with the infamous body scanners that not only produce vivid nude images of ourselves, wives and children, but possibly expose us and our loved ones to harmful radiation.  We are familiar with the so-called "choice" of receiving an alternative "pat down", the sort of human bodily contact that would, in the world outside of our insane airports, brand the perpetrator a sex offender.

Breaking News: What Happens When You Refuse

John Tyner had a run-in in the San Diego airport this morning. He opted out of both the scan and the pat-down, was intimidated by numerous officials, was escorted from the security area, got a refund from American Airlines, and then detained further before finally being allowed to leave. Read his whole story.

Friday, November 12, 2010

TSA News Roundup

  • CNET's electronic privacy guru, Declan McCullough, has an information-packed article on the scanners on CNET.
  • CNN picks up the story of growing outrage. The US Travel Alliance (is this the one the Orbitz belongs to) comments:
    "We have received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from travelers vowing to stop flying," Geoff Freeman, an executive vice president of the U.S. Travel Association, told Reuters.
    A 2008 survey found that air travelers "avoided" 41 million trips because they believed the air travel system was either "broken" or in need of "moderate correction," the U.S. Travel Association said. The decisions cost airlines $9.4 billion, the survey said.
    So keep the letters coming!
  • Muslim women are encouraged to maintain their right to privacy.

National Opt-Out Day

Gotta fly, but want to protest? Opt-out and create a bottleneck on Nov 24th.

Not gonna fly, but want to participate? Pamphleteering may be risky, but some groups are going to try it. Or, you can just go to a local airport and wander around wearing this t-shirt. The key is to advertise to passengers what exactly that big box is in the security area.

Round 2: Turning up the heat on Orbitz and US Air

I've sent these letters to Orbitz and US Air letting them know what I think of their responses so far:

Reply from Delta

Gary Cottington forwards Delta's reply to him:

Dear Mr. Cottingham,

RE: Case Number 1899562
Thank you for your email describing your unpleasant experience with the 
TSA check-in processes.  On behalf of Delta Air Lines, your feedback 
regarding the updated security screening directives are greatly 

I am sorry that you are disappointed with the new Advanced Imaging 
Technology (AIT) also commonly referred to as full body scanner 
technology.  This system produces images of the body in order to detect 
potential threats concealed underneath passengers' clothing that could 
have possibly gone undetected with the current method.  Please 
understand that safety remains our first and foremost priority, and it 
guides our day-to-day operations.  While federal regulations prohibit us
from discussing the criteria used for security decisions and we 
acknowledge they may be invasive and disruptive, they serve to make 
flying safer for everyone.  We understand that some requirements may 
make it difficult for passengers to travel and it may require them to 
make a decision on whether it is in their best interest to utilize air 
travel.  While we are sorry that it may require some passengers not 
travel by air, we follow all directives handed down to us from the 
higher authorities. 

Short and to the point (Jet Blue)

Submitted online at by James Rich:
My concern is that I will never submit myself, my wife or my kids to radiation exposure and porn pics or to be felt up and sexually assaulted by TSA Gestapo squads and we will never fly on
an airplane again.
Jet Blue's response:

If you must fly, take this with you

The pat-down is already illegal in my book, but if you want to protect yourself from gross violations, take this form with you. As recommended on the FlyerTalk forum, fill it out before the pat-down starts. If you like, you can promise to tear it up if the agent just does his/her job and doesn't get too friendly or act like a bully.

UPDATE: Here is where such a claim should be sent to:
  • Email the Contact Center at
  • Email the Claims Management Branch at
  • Fax the Claims Management Branch at (571) 227-1904
  • Send written correspondence to:
    TSA Claims Management Branch
    601 South 12th St.
    Arlington, VA 20598-6009

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Follow-up on 'Does the state care about your health?'

(No, it doesn't.) Here's the content of responses that the UK Health Protection Agency is copying and pasting to concerned British citizens (via Facebook):
Thank you for your enquiry regarding airport body scanners.

After speaking to the HSE's Radiation Policy section, they have confirmed that the main government department that is responsible for the safe introduction and use of full body scanners are the Department for Transport (DFT).

The responsibility for the safe operation of the full body scanners will also lie with the airport operator who will need to ensure that risk assessments are carried out as legally required. This will ensure that safe working practises are in place as required in relation to employee exposure.

The following information may be of use to you in relation to your query;

Dear Hawaiian Airlines...

Ryan forwards along his letter to Hawaiian Airlines:
I recently moved to Waikiki and I love getting to and from the islands on any one of Hawaiian Air's planes. Your customer service is great and flying with you is a generally pleasant experience.

However, there's a problem. Getting to your gates is somewhat of a hassle. You see, I either have to submit to a machine-generated strip search or undergo a rather vigorous groping by a TSA agent. What the hell?

Flying used to be magical to me. I remember flying to Canada when I was just six years old. That was THE experience of my then still short lifetime. We used to be able to check in, hand over our baggage, and just saunter to the gates without being stopped and harassed by a Federal agent.

Strip-searches are usually reserved for prison inmates suspected of carrying contraband. Are we arrestees? No! We're ordinary Americans merely trying to see an old friend, attend a business meeting, or just trying to get somewhere for an enjoyable vacation. Grandma in the wheelchair or that double amputee with the prosthetics are hardly a terrorist threat.

Flight attendants' union takes a stand, too

Apparently, all the pilots and flight attendants' unions are getting their acts together and taking a stand against this security. Of course, they just want a crew pass and don't care if the rest of us continue to suffer, but it's a start.

(H/T Stephen B)

Professionals? Ha!

A reader writes:
As a former rape victim & survivor of childhood sexual abuse, the idea of going through one of the backscatter scanners and/OR an "enhanced pat-down" has me terrified.

When flying to Albuquerque last year, I mistakenly left my sweater at the seats after the scanners & security station in the Phoenix airport... I discovered the missing sweater on the way to the gate & returned to get it.  By this time, a long line had formed at the metal detector machines, so I was forced to go through the scanner.  As I was gathering my purse, carry-on, shoes & sweater to try to restore some semblance of order to my person & my belongings, I was able to hear someone smirking, "nice big tits on that one!"  I cannot tell you how mortified & embarrassed I was.  If I had not had Rescue Remedy with me, in my purse, I might have had a panic attack.
On a related note, Meg McLain said in her interview that not only was she the only person selected for the naked scanner on her recent attempt to leave Miami, but she has been selected for a pat-down in the airport before! I've flown at least twice a year since the TSA was created and I've never been "randomly selected" for a pat-down. Meg is purported to be "smokin' hot" - do you think it's a coincidence that she's had her breasts twisted by a TSO in the past and was selected for the naked scanner this time around? In my opinion, she was sexually assaulted the last time around, and her story illustrates the absurdity of those who say that the TSOs are professionals just doing their job to keep the skies safe.

Dear Southwest and Alaska Airlines...

JC Warren writes: "Using their respective web sites, I sent the following message to both Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines which are the two I typically use:"
Flying with Southwest Airlines is a pleasure, but getting to the plane is a total pain. I don't fly much and won't be flying at all until the TSA changes its "security" tactics. I refuse to submit to a virtual strip search or a sexual assault by some government goon. I have every confidence that your airlines could do a much better job of ensuring the safety of flights than the boobs at the TSA. Please make every effort to reign in the tyrannical behavior of the TSA. And if you're feeling especially customer service oriented, you could lobby (hard) for the total elimination of this ludicrous federal agency. Thank you.

John Whitehead on Michael Roberts

John Whitehead, an attorney and founder of the Rutherford Institute has a great write-up about the scanners, touching on all the issues.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dear Jet Blue...

Dear Delta...

Gary Cottingham wrote the following to Delta Airlines:
due to the tsa's current use of the irradiation scanners--i like to refer to them as porno scanners--i have been opting out of being exposed to the x-rays and refuse to expose myself in a virtual strip-search.  the images produced by these scanners are pornographic and if a minor, certainly violate the spirit of child pornography laws.

i believe that the tsa is now retaliating against those of us who opt out by doing their 'enhanced' pat downs--basically a disgusting groping exercise if you will.

as long as your airline tacitly approves of this violation of my 4th amendment rights i will be driving more and flying less.



Gary L. Cottingham

Dear Continental...

Paul Aubert forwards along his letter to Continental Airlines customer service. The response so far, according to Paul is: "I received basically a form letter response telling me my letter would be forwarded to more senior management. We shall see."
Dear Customer Service:

I am writing to let you know that I will no longer fly a US airline unless it is absolutely and utterly necessary as a last resort.

Over the last ten years, since the tragic events of 9/11, there is no longer any joy in flying.  I used to look forward to go to the airport, knowing that I would be flying. I remember how much fun it used to be to look out of the window and just to be on an airplane, flying somewhere distant and reaching that destination so quickly.  I used to take fun weekend trips, using your specials, all the time just because it was such a great deal and you could get somewhere so quickly.  I have not done this in years, though, because air travel is now such a burden.

As long as you permit the FAA and TSA (and goodness knows how many additional federal agencies) to control how you run your airline, your business will suffer and suffer badly.  It does not do for you to say that you have no control over what these agencies do.  If all of the major airlines stood their ground and refused to permit mindless government bureaucrats to run airline and airport security (and for that matter, to run air traffic control, which has also become a tremendous hindrance to a pleasant air travel experience), this madness could be curtailed.

Dear Mr. Chertoff..

Dear Mr. Chertoff:

You should be ashamed of yourself for shilling for a technology that has not been tested enough to prove its safety and that is so extremely invasive.  I can only hope that you suffer through the humiliation and indignity of being screened while being doused with radiation on a regular basis as well.  If I had to guess, though, you and most of your lobbyist buddies and fear mongers make enough money from your selling out the Fourth Amendment that you fly privately on a regular basis.

Thanks for profiting off your illustrious position as the head of the ultra-fascist DHS.  I recently returned from serving in the US Army in Kuwait but I cannot say I am proud to have served a country that no longer values our fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.  I am fairly certain that Patrick Henry did not utter “Give me a false-sense of security or give me death!”


Eric S. Morris

 Eric says that Mr. Chertoff has not responded and: 
His email address can be found here:, you can make comments to his Chertoff Group here (, and you can even comment on Rapiscan’s website here:

The Good Guys (sorta)

British Airways and now Ryan Air have both come out against the scanners. Although, it's not clear to me that they are refusing to service airports with the scanners... that would make things change quicker (but hurt their bottom line in the short run). I'll try to keep tabs on these companies so we know who to give our business to after the scanners are removed and who to continue to boycott.

Strong words from pilots' unions

Captain Mike Cleary, head of the US Airways pilot union is using stronger language than his American Airlines counterpart did last week. An excerpt:

Let's be perfectly clear: the TSA procedures we have outlined above are blatantly unacceptable as a long-term solution. Although an immediate solution cannot be guaranteed, I can promise you that your union will not rest until all U.S. airline pilots have a way to reach their workplace ... the aircraft ... without submitting ourselves to the will of a TSO behind closed doors.
His recommendations are that pilots do not go through the scanners, opt for a private pat-down, and make sure to bring a witness to the private screening room, and then: "After being subjected to an enhanced pat-down procedure, pilots must evaluate their fitness for duty."

Hey, pilots! Don't forget about the mere customers who pay your salaries!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Seattle Times on the scanners

This article in the Seattle Times appears to be a factual FAQ that does not just rubber-stamp the government policies. It's a little tame, but is probably more palatable to the masses.

US Air revises their "offer"

Cynthia from US Air called me and stated that they will now waive the $150 change fee (the letter I posted earlier today said that they will not waive the change fee). So, I've booked my new flight going through a scanner-less airport*, but had to pay the $100 fare difference and will also have to (as of now) pony up for the one-way rental car.

*In case you're interested, Allentown, PA, Atlantic City, NJ, and Norfolk, VA are the nearest airports to DC that have no scanners. All are about a 4 hour drive. Let me just say that if I were not going clear across the country, the amount of time I'll be investing in this trip would not be worth it.

Keeping tabs

My cousin writes to tell me that he and his wife are canceling their plans to fly home for the holidays and will be driving 7+ hours through a New England winter instead.

He also sent the following letter to Sen Leahy:
Senator Leahy,

I want to know what, if anything, you are doing to put an end to the intrusive methods being used by the TSA to screen air travelers.

I'm talking specifically about the backscatter scanners and the pat-downs, which include crotch, breast and buttock touching.

I'm not okay with this new policy from the TSA and I hope that you would immediately put an end to it or at least suspend it indefinitely.


Kevin McElroy
I will be keeping a running tab of letters sent to businesses and representatives, as well as there responses on the Letters page.

Response from US Air

My most recent letter crossed paths with US Air's response to my first letter. I don't have time to transcribe this or comment on it now, so I'll leave it at: this is a really lame reply.
USAir Response #1

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pilots: Will you help us?

Michael Roberts, the pilot who refused a scan and pat-down during his commute last month, has another article online. I think it is worthwhile to reproduce it in full here (after the jump). Reading it gave me an idea, since he refers to his colleagues' concern and letter to their employer in August. Now, Roberts is already doing his part, but what about the other pilots across the nation. Many of these guys are unionized (as are the flight attendants) and some are boycotting the scanners. But it would be more beneficial if they went on a strike I could get behind: refuse to work until the TSA stops invading the rights of all crew and passengers. Presidents have been known to (wrongfully) intervene in strikes that threaten entire industries, so this may actually force the issue all the way to the White House.

The scanners aren't the only problem

I've done a lot of complaining on this blog. But, aside from stopping the use of scanners, what is the solution? I am opposed to pat-downs as well, on the same 4th Amendment and human natural rights basis: you must suspect a particular individual of a particular crime to violate their inherent sovereignty in their own person.

Are you a social conservative? Then you have a moral sense that all of us should reserve for the bedroom what belongs in the bedroom. Following this logic, men, women, and children should not bare themselves to strangers nor let strangers touch them in inappropriate ways.

Are you a social liberal? Then you stand up for a woman's right to her own body. To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (hey! I'm a child of the late 80's/early 90's!):
I say who! I say when! I say who!
While you may not care if someone looks at you or touches you in certain ways, you can certainly understand that other people may care. And it is theretheir right to care and be protected from a violation of their rights as owners of their own bodies.

I am guilty of putting up with the various violations of the TSA, airport owners, and airlines (under pre-TSA FAA rules) of my rights.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orbitz Complicity

Orbitz is not only complicit in the TSA scanner policy, they have officially recommended the scanners over pat-downs for customers:
Because the pat down will take longer than the 30-second body scan, Orbitz Senior Editor Jeanenne Tornatore recommends the scanner.
Meanwhile, the "National Newspaper of the Travel Industry" has a poll on its website asking if you prefer a pat-down or body scanner (no third option). "Pardon me, ma'am. Would you prefer if I rape you or stab you?" Here's a screenshot of Travel Weekly's poll (lower right):

Tell Orbitz and the rest of the travel industry what you think of their recommendations and polls!