TSA’s security breach
New scanners invade the privacy of airline travelers

Many people who are flying this holiday season are uncomfortable with the latest tool in the Transportation Security Administration’s arsenal, the backscatter machines, or body imaging x-ray machines called millimeter wave scanners, which produce what is essentially a naked picture of the passenger. The scanners are currently used in 65 airports nationwide.

The TSA is phasing out metal detectors in favor of the new machines. If passengers decline to walk through the machine, they receive the opportunity to get to second base with a TSA agent of the same gender as the passenger in question. That’s right: the pat-down.

Children are subject to the same requirements as adults, though the TSA does state, “If required, a child may receive a modified pat-down.” But that is only if a parent requires it; otherwise, it’s the normal pat-down or the backscatter machine for children as well.

Many passengers are finding the new procedures a bit overwhelming, but on the upside, the new machines are providing an opportunity for entrepreneurs like the ones at www.4thamendmentwear.com. The website is selling underclothes with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (as well as other pointed messages) printed in special magnetic ink. The messages, designed to show up in the images created by the backscatter machines, are strategically placed on the underwear and reduce visibility of certain parts of the body on  the x-ray. The website offers socks, undershirts and briefs for men, as well as a full set of women’s underwear. Children’s sizes are also available.

The TSA rules regarding liquids are also still in effect; their website publishes a “3-1-1 Policy for Liquids, Gels and Aerosols,” with the following restrictions: 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less for all liquids, gels and aerosols, placed in a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag to hold all small bottles. Passengers are allowed one bag each, to be placed in a screening bin.

"Not Allowed" by Whitney Davis/Mainstream

If in doubt at all, liquids should be checked with baggage.

The TSA will allow over 3.4 oz of the following items: baby formula, breast-milk and juice if a baby or small child is traveling; all prescription and over-the-counter medications (liquids, gels, and aerosols) including petroleum jelly, eye drops, and saline solution for medical purposes; liquids including water, juice, liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with a disability or medical condition; life-support and life-sustaining liquids such as bone marrow, blood products, and transplant organs; items used to augment the body for medical or cosmetic reasons such as mastectomy products, prosthetic breasts, bras or shells containing gels, saline solution, or other liquids; and, frozen items are allowed as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening.

For travelers completely lacking common sense, TSA’s website states that all nunchucks, throwing stars, meat cleavers, swords, bows and arrows, spear guns, flare guns, cattle prods, hatchets must be checked, also the equally dangerous Dr. Scholl’s gel shoe inserts cannot be carried on the plane.

Meanwhile, hand grenades, plastic explosives, dynamite, strike-anywhere matches, liquid bleach and fire extinguishers need to be left at home all together while traveling this season.

Airlines suggest that passengers arrive at least three hours before their flight is scheduled to leave in order to give themselves ample time to clear security. Wear your patient pants and get ready to make friends with your airport’s TSA agents.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.