At the end of 2015, the TSA snuck in a pre-holiday amendment to their body scanner opt-out policy: that passengers may “generally” opt for a pat-down instead of the body scanner, but the TSA reserves the right to require the body scanner. I immediately filed suit, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse this arbitrary change made in the face of 94.0% public opposition to the body scanners and the fact that I made readily apparent in 2012: that the body scanners simply don’t work.
A year later, we finally have the government’s position on the matter. First, I’m reminded that I’m complaining for no reason:
“AIT screening presents no greater intrusion upon passenger privacy than the walk-through metal detectors previously deployed at airport checkpoints”
…which is why 94% oppose them.
Next, I’m told that I shouldn’t concern myself with the matter, because only “selectees” will lose their right to opt-out:
“[T]he challenged AIT screening policy applies only to individuals who have been issued a boarding pass with an “SSSS” notation indicating that they have been selected for enhanced screening. This notation generally means that the passenger in question is a ‘selectee.’ Selectees are individuals who are ‘[k]nown or suspected [t]errorists’ or who have been ‘identified as [posing a] higher risk’ to airline security ‘based on intelligence [redacted].’ Additionally, as of July 2016, TSA has instituted a policy under which [redacted] airline passengers are randomly designated as selectees for the purpose of a particular trip.”
…but that last sentence is, of course, the problem and, frankly, is what we all already know: that you can be Mother Theresa and still end up with a blue glove between your legs because because the TSA has randomly made you a “selectee.”
But, let’s ignore that for a moment. There’s a more pressing question: Why does the TSA feel that someone with a higher “risk” level (whether because they are a suspected terrorist, or were randomly selected to be treated like one) should be screened by body scanner rather than a pat-down?
“[Redacted]. Covert tests also suggested selectees could [redacted] opting out of AIT screening in favor of a pat-down.”
Ah, that clears it up. The TSA, allegedly, found some scenario where it’s easier to beat the pat-down than the body scanners, but doesn’t want to tell us what that is. But, what about the very real scenarios where the body scanners are easier to beat than the pat-down? That, of course, isn’t discussed at all. Once again, the TSA blindly chooses these high-tech, high-price, highly-invasive gadgets when very effective alternatives exist.
The case continues as I get an opportunity to file a reply brief. I’ll also be asking the court to appoint counsel with a security clearance to review the redacted brief and represent my interests, because hiding the rationale for a policy that is being challenged for arbitrariness from the person challenging it doesn’t exactly lend itself to a fair day in court.