When the TSA announced in 2015 that for “some passengers” they were eliminating the body scanner opt-out option, which allowed passengers to be screened via pat-down instead of body scanner, they phrased it as follows:
“TSA is updating the AIT PIA to reflect a change to the operating protocol regarding the ability of individuals to opt opt-out of AIT screening in favor of physical screening. While passengers may generally decline AIT screening in favor of physical screening, TSA may direct mandatory AIT screening for some passengers. … The individual will undergo physical screening if ATR alarms for the presence of an object.”
For those not into TSA jargon, AIT = body scanner, ATR = the software on the body scanner that allegedly detects stuff on your body, and “physical screening” = pat-down.
But, new documents I obtained in my lawsuit against these policies (source, pp. 27, 28) show that they lied about a key fact: if you are selected as one of these “some passengers,” you will be screened with both body scanner and pat-down, even if the body scanner does not alarm:
“That does not preclude TSA from determining that security considerations may sometimes justify exceeding the baseline established by the pat-down technique by requiring certain passengers to undergo both AIT screening and a pat-down—two screening methods that provide distinct benefits when used in tandem. … These [redacted] empirical findings supply ample justification for TSA’s decision to require selectees to be screened using both AIT scanners and a pat-down, without the ability to opt for a pat-down alone.”
Further, the pat-down you’ll receive in this scenario has been modified, although the TSA has redacted from the document exactly how (my best guess, based on my research of all documents and the TSA’s past treatment of passengers selected for additional screening, is that your “sensitive areas” will be touched with the screener’s front-of-hand, rather than back-of-hand).
So, who are these “some passengers” that the TSA is subjecting to both a scan and a proper groping? As discussed in my previous post on this lawsuit: anyone can be randomly selected for this treatment. If you’re on the TSA’s “we think you might be a terrorist” list, you’ll be a “selectee” every time you fly. But, if you buy a one-way ticket with cash, or something else the TSA finds to be “suspicious,” or even if you don’t and you just get unlucky, you can now expect blue gloves between your legs.
It is highly troubling that the TSA is demanding invasive double-searches without disclosing their intentions to the public. And what does this say about the nearly $2B body scanner program, if the TSA feels the need to pat people down after using them? Clearly it shows that the TSA knows the body scanners can easily be beaten, so why have them at all?
The reason, of course, is [REDACTED] — the best way to avoid being accountable to the people.