"You Have a Cute Figure"

ACLUm Online Coordinator Danielle Riendeau contributed the following:

As a frequent flier--and a young woman--I couldn’t help but sit up and take notice when this news story crossed my desk. A Dallas news station investigated what appears to be a truly gross invasion of a woman’s privacy by TSA agents at DFW airport, when they made her go through the “naked scanner” 3 times.

She was told she had a “cute figure” by one agent, made to go through the machine three times, and even overheard an annoyed female agent talking to her colleagues watching the images behind the scenes. It sounds a whole lot like exactly what is not supposed to be happening, and this case is far from the only one: CBS reported on the myriad complaints aimed at the TSA--many of them sent in by women who have felt violated by the technology and their treatment at the hands of TSA agents.

Hey, TSA, what about all those assertions about protecting our privacy that were hurled around last time a spate of complaints and unsavory stories made the rounds? Stories that passengers have shared with the ACLU, or the case of an agent who had helped test one of the machines and attacked his colleagues after they ridiculed him for having a small penis have a habit of sticking around and becoming all the more relevant in light of recent news. What happened to the stick figures that you promised our naked images would be converted to?

I fly between two and six times per month. I’ve been patted down (the consequence of “opting out” of the privacy-invading scans) in six cities in the last year alone, and once had a 12-flight streak of being manhandled before I finally had the good luck to fly through a gate with normal security.

I’ve seen first-hand what this security theater creates--a sense of power over other individuals, a complete disrespect for travelers’ dignity and privacy, and an atmosphere of fear and nervousness for fliers. Security experts contend that these expensive new machines aren’t improving anyone’s safety, and the consequence is that these privacy violations run rampant. TSA, it looks like you’ve been caught with your pants down--again.