TSA’s Pistole on invasive patdowns and nude scanners

Transportation Security Administration Chief John Pistole said over the weekend that the agency will limit private screeners to just 16 U.S. airports.
An admirably persistent reporter from WeAreChange.org (not mainstream media, of course) questioned TSA Administrator John Pistole the other day about the strip-search scanners and his euphemistically termed “enhanced patdowns.” Pistole is his usual weaselly self, dancing around questions, faux-caring, and lying. Here’s the video.

Don’t forget that the public comment period on the gropes and scanners is open now. Please put your comment in the public record. You can leave a comment about the TSA in the public docket here. You can get more information if you need it here.

  • Susan Richart

    Here’s my comment:

    “Regarding the Naked Body Scanners (NBS), I have several comments:

    1. TSA changed the name they used for the original scanners from Whole Body Imaging (WBI) to Automated Imaging Technology (AIT) at a time when a hue and cry was developing about naked images. This name change was made in a deliberate attempt to deceive the air traveling public as to what it is that the machines do. I prefer to use EPIC’s term: Naked Body Scanners (NBS).

    2. Notwithstanding the fact that the MMW NOS machines now show a gumby-like representation, the fact remains that these machines are still looking at naked human bodies. That is a gross violation of our right to privacy.

    3. Apparently, the TSA has contracted with American Science and Engineering to deliver, for $245,000,000, BACKSCATTER machines with ATR. Allegedly, 3 of these units have been or are soon to be delivered to the TSA for testing.

    This is totally unacceptable. Backscatter NBS, even with ATR, still delivers health-threatening doses of x-ray over the entire body, including the eyes.

    4. NBS of any kind is useless in that it is so unreliable. Most recently, it was discontinued at the Dublin airport because it backed up lines and was unreliable. Also recently, MMW was withdrawn from a prison in Ireland due to it missing 43% of test items. The same machines were withdrawn from Hamburg, Germany, due to a 54% failure rate, either failing to detect items or false alarms.

    5. The TSA states that it looks for “anomalies” through NBS. TSA is not charged with finding “anomalies” but rather with finding Weapons, Explovies and Incendiaries. Unfortunately, NBS finds sweat, bra straps, ostomy devices, personal hygiene products, pleats in clothing and often nothing. (Some of that “nothing” is allegedly found on bare skin.)

    Each of these “finds” requires a patdown. These patdowns often are humiliating and degrading.

    6. This brings me to patdowns that result from declining to go through the NBS process. If the patdowns mentioned in 5 above can be humiliating, the so-called “enhanced” patdowns are even more so. No one consents to having a TSA screener rub his/her genitals or put his/her hands inside one’s waistband. It brings further trauma to survivors of sexual assault.

    So you say, well the patdown can be avoided by submitting to NBS. Standing in the machine with one’s arms in the surrender position is, in its own way, just a degrading as a patdown. Further, as mentioned above, agreeing to be scanned does not guarantee that one will not also have to suffer a patdown.

    For those cannot go through the NBS for any reason, each and every time they transit a TSA checkpoint they suffer through an invasive patdown which takes a psychological toll each time.

    7. Finally, the Court told the TSA to PRODUCE RULES for transiting checkpoints, rules that are available to the traveling public, especially concerning what to expect in a patdown. TSA must provide written rules for a patdown to include which areas of the body will be touched by a screener and in what manner. For example, in those published rules, the TSA must refrain from using terms such as “resistance” when, in fact, they mean “genitals.” How will a screener’s hands search one’s body, by “patting” or by “rubbing?” There is a huge difference. Is a screener allowed so slam his/her hand into a person’s gential area? Is a screener allowed to “cup” a man’s testicles or feel his penis? Is a screener allowed to press hard on a woman’s breast? Is a screener allowed to press extra hard on a surgical incision or scar? All these questions must be answered.

    TSA can no longer hide behind SSI as the first time a passenger went through an “enhanced” patdown* the “cat was out of the bag.” Therefore, it is incumbent upon the TSA to make available to all passengers the stated procedure for this process.

    * Concerning the word “patdown.” I note that in the document produced by the TSA for this comment period, this word was spelled:


    pat down


    It’s quite obvious that several different people contributed to the “rule” produced by the TSA and that no one person proofread it for accuracy. But what else can we expect from the TSA?”

    I had to do it in 3 parts as it is so long. However, I attached a PDF of the entire document to each part.

    Now I will wait to see if it was accepted as I used some naughty words, such as “testicles”, “penis” and “breasts.” 🙂

    • Daisiemae

      Please let us know if your comment is posted. I used breasts, buttocks, and genitals and my comment was posted.

      • TSAisTerrorism

        I’ve seen out and out profanity posted. Of course, TSA still doesn’t understand how loathed they are.

    • Kitten

      Good post, Susan. I wonder, has anyone considered the fact that the Nude Body Scanners could be a violation of the ADA, Americans with Disabilities?

    • TSAisTerrorism

      Instead of making one long post like this one, I’ve made several on different themes. Though Southerner by heritage and breeding, by God the greatest people on Earth, I was born in Chicago, and so I did as any good Chicagoan and commented early. And often.

      I see at least 15 good individual comments against this sham right there. They certainly are going to take into account the volume of the comments because Lord knows this is the TSA and they aren’t smart enough to comprehend the complex thought processes in these comments.

      I say flood ’em. Overwhelm them with tens of thousands of negative comments!

      • Daisiemae

        I knew there was something I liked about you. You’re a Southern gentleman! God’s greatest people…you know it y’all! I’m a transplanted Southern Belle here in NJ.

        I like your idea about chopping comments up into several. I think I’ll do that. I already posted one long comment, but there were several observations that I’d still like to make.

        I think you may be right: All that intelligence and eloquence may be wasted on these cretins.

      • Susan Richart

        I had to break it up into 3 different comments as there were too many characters.

        I have also submitted two (at least I think it’s 2) other comments.

      • RB

        TSA will ignore the opposing comments because they don’t agree with TSA’s game plan.

  • Pistole and Napolitano needs to be arrested and hang at the gallows for crimes against the Constitution of the United States! They are both Nazis!

  • Kfred

    First, he agreed that the gropes (aka pat-downs) can be incredibly invasive. Second, I’ve NEVER heard of a ‘targeted’ grope. They always seem to end up with a full-body grope.

  • Susan Richart

    Per EPIC, please use the term “nude body scanners” or “NBS” when you comment.

    You will recall that the TSA changed their initial name for the machines from Whole Body Imaging (WBI) to Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) in an attempt to conceal from the public exactly what these machines do.

    • RB

      I prefer Electronic Strip Search Machine.

      • Susan Richart

        As long as you don’t use the TSA’s deceptive terms, I certainly don’t have an issue.

  • RB

    I think the phrase “If his lips are moving” applies in Pistole’s case.