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View Diary: DHS to fund safety study on backscatter Xray detectors at airports (81 comments)

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  •  The backscatters are irritating (1+ / 0-)
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    I was pulled aside when my hair tie -- which was elastic and not metal -- which was holding my hair in a low ponytail appeared to set one off? This resulted in my explaining and reexplaining that there was nothing of note inside of my shirt but that they were seeing THROUGH my shirt to the ponytail holder which was sitting on my back.

    It took the damned TSA like ten minutes of grilling me to figure out what I was talking about. I finally took my hair down and walked back through the backscatter to show them after being patted down and scanned. I'm so irritated by the whole rigamarole at the airports that I never wear anything metal other than my wedding ring... literally... when flying. And I really don't feel safer for it. I felt happier, however, when flying domestic Turkish airlines where I just got on the plane, water bottle and everything, and it took like three minutes to board. It's like being in 1977 all over again. Also, nicer airports (the newer ones, anyway).

    The worst, most irritating airport I have ever been through is the one in Amsterdam for making you go through repeat, multiple lines and checks and scans and so on and so forth, plus I am always, always singled out in customs lines for a full grill on and on and on. We had a three and a half hour layover and STILL barely made it through. I'm glad I didn't stop and shop for tulip bulbs.

    The second worst is that little terminal in Boston which has nothing in it at all, and once you go through security, you're in a tiny room without anything to do.

    Anything to speed up the process is fantastic, IMHO.

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    by mahakali overdrive on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 05:52:36 PM PST

    •  on the rare occasions (2+ / 0-)
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      mahakali overdrive, Mote Dai

      in the last few years when I've had to take a domestic flight, I've "opted out," as they say and requested the hand scanner and pat down.

      In each case, the woman has been polite, professional and has stated what she's going to do and where she's going to touch before she does. Which doesn't make it much less horrible.

      So I talk to them: Do you realize that a Bush administration executive was involved with the company responsible for the backscatter machines and stood to make a lot of money?

      Did you know that the Europeans use an electronic wand and that studies have shown it's more efficient at finding potential problems than a hand search?

      And so on. Always in calm tones and with facts, always politely. It's not their fault they have a crappy job.

      Shortly after the backscatters came into use, one agent said, Yes, she knew the machines were questionable, but "we were just told to use them, and there they were." Paraphrasing, but clearly they'd had little in the way of warning.

      We are often so identified with whatever thoughts we may be having that we don’t realize the thoughts are a commentary on reality, and not reality itself. -- Gangaji

      by Mnemosyne on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:41:33 PM PST

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      •  I talk to them to (1+ / 0-)
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        I have found the agents to be very accommodating.  You don't want to be groped and they don't want to be groping you.  I have never found the pat downs excessive or even all that troublesome, but I can see how someone with a medical condition (or device) or a woman (because she has more parts to be groped) might be uncomfortable.  They definitely do touch EVERYTHING.  

        I have never been asked to remove any clothing or lift up a shirt.  It goes fairly quickly and I never really have to wait that long for the pat down.

        Usually I do what is called the "Self directed opt out"...I pick my line carefully to find the one with a walk through metal detector just to avoid the whole situation.

        As I said, I will still go through a millimeter wave scanner, but they really don't work as a detection device.

        "When a nation goes down, or a society perishes, one condition may always be found; they forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what had brought them along." --Carl Sandburg

        by Mote Dai on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 09:52:25 AM PST

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        •  because of an old surgery, (0+ / 0-)

          I have metal within, so I'll always set off the detector. Thus, it's a given that I'll get closer inspection, and I no longer bother removing such as rings or watches.

          The traffic director outside the scanners always seems to sneer a bit -- "she's an opt-out!" -- as if you were somehow faintly disreputable for preferring not to inflict excess radiation on yourself. But, tant pis.

          We are often so identified with whatever thoughts we may be having that we don’t realize the thoughts are a commentary on reality, and not reality itself. -- Gangaji

          by Mnemosyne on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 10:51:50 AM PST

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