Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 3, 2011

Con: Pat-downs invasive, out of control

People's right to privacy is violated

By Haley Morris
Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — I do believe that airport security has gone too far with its attempt to protect the people of the United States. Some airport security measures have been too obtrusive with both their pat-downs and full-body scans. A few of the latest stops at the security checks in airports have greatly violated people's right to privacy.

In one video, I watched TV reporters in Chicago interview an elderly woman with two false knees; she compared her pat-down to being raped. Penny Moroney, of Chicago, says that the metal in her knees set off the metal detectors and, when asked to go through a pat-down, Moroney requested a body-scanner instead. Moroney was told that no body-scanners were available.

"I left the room crying and feeling more violated than I had ever felt in my life after the pat-down. I likened it to being raped," Moroney said. This poor woman was put through much more than any person, whether American or Islamic, regular citizen or famed politician, should ever have to endure.

I believe that the TSA agents have become too detached emotionally from their jobs; they see no wrong in the way that they have violated airline passengers. This supports my position by showing just how far the TSA is willing to go to provide "security" for the nation.

I watched several TSA videos gone amiss, including one where a cancer patient ends up covered in his own urine after his urine bag from surgery is broken. Another man is told to remove his turban even after he successfully passed through a metal detector and a TSA virtual screening without setting either off.

Then there's 3-year-old Mandy Simon, who already had her teddy bear taken away when she set off the metal detector twice at the Chattanooga Airport and was forced to go through a pat-down. TSA officials say that when the alarms go off twice, no matter what your age, you are forced to go through a physical pat-down; you cannot go through a virtual screening at this point.

I believe that this example supports my decision by showing that not even children are safe from being invaded by our so-called security measures. These are just children; of course they are going to scream and cry at being touched all over by a stranger.

Some people would say that airport security has not gone too far in protecting us from terrorist attacks because it has stopped so many potential terrorists and prevented others from coming through. These people believe that a pat-down is better to keep us safe because it checks all potential areas of a person's body for any type of weapon or security violation. I would say to them that security has gone too far because of all the people who have been violated. I would point out that we can have security and still be safe without having to make people, especially young children, endure extensive touching by TSA security.

Some people would say that a pat-down is much more effective than a virtual screening because things hidden in places, such as fat rolls, might be missed by a screener. I would say that a scanning is less invasive and a better idea because people feel less violated. I would point out that the screenings seem to be working well and that you would not have to endure being touched in private places. A screener could pick up a weapon or security breach just as well, if not better, than a pat-down. I would also point out that a pat-down takes up much more time and gets more complaints than a screening by a machine.

If you are a child who has suffered abuse or a woman who has been raped, you would feel scared, frightened and distrustful of airport security if you were forced to go through a pat-down rather than a screening.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I do believe it is wrong to not make people like President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endure pat-downs while the Americans they are supposed to be helping are having their privacy invaded daily by airport security. I also think that all airports should completely forgo pat-downs and just go to the screeners.

If everyone were required to go through a screener rather than a metal detector or a pat-down, then things would run more smoothly, there would be less complaints and fewer people would feel as if their Fourth Amendment rights were being violated. Finally, I would just like to say that if the TSA doesn't start working on a viable solution soon, they will quickly find themselves to be on America's most-hated list.

Haley Morris is studying public safety and protective services at TBAISD Career-Tech Center. She also is a senior at Buckley High School.