Recently, the Transportation Security Administration decided to implement the use of full-body scanners for airline passengers. While the use of body scanners are reportedly at random, once a scan is refused (for any reason), TSA agents are authorized to give passengers an “enhanced pat down.” Passengers who have gone through the “enhanced pat down” have stated that the process involved touching their genitalia, squeezing their breasts and stroking their faces.
The policy has come under criticism by many individuals and groups, including Israeli security administrators, passengers and both the pilots’ and flight attendants’ unions. The main criticisms are that the body scan/pat-down policy is far too intrusive and is also ineffective at curtailing terrorism. In response to the TSA’s bad judgment call, the policy has spawned a grassroots movement (https://www.wewontfly.com). Local activists George Donnelly and Jim Babb maintain the website and have set up several events in the area. As of right now, the main focuses of the group are to educate the public on the issue of full body scanners and using civil disobedience to pressure the TSA into changing its policies. As of right now, this push for civil disobedience will culminate with “National Opt-Out Day” on Nov. 24, 2010; the event encourages fliers to “opt out” of going through the full body scanners, as well as write letters, tweet, blog, make phone calls, and in their words, to “raise hell” to get the policy changed.
In light of the fact that many out-of-area Temple students use Philadelphia International Airport to return home to their families for the Thanksgiving holiday (not to mention winter/summer breaks and to attend study abroad programs), I feel that The Temple News is committing a glaring oversight by not mentioning this issue or the upcoming protests. As a university newspaper, you have the ability to reach tens of thousands of students; whether those students join the protest, voice their opposition to the protest, simply talk about airline security or are now a little more informed on what to expect at the airport, the information needs to get out there.