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TSA searches

November 21, 2010

I have read a barrage of articles on the growing fury at the TSA frisking or pat downs at airports. The new scanners seem to be excessively invasive as well. How ludicrous that a breast cancer survivor had to show a TSA employee her fake breast implant.

I was at university in Belfast during the height of the troubles and endured endless body searches. With the IRA planting bombs and incendiaries in shops, it was necessary for each shop to employ civilian searchers to frisk every customer that entered their premises. These searches ranged from a perfunctory  patting to the full blown genital grope. The long-haired, denim clad students seemed to be targeted unduly, and this was at a time when there were few detector wands or metal detectors. As each shop had its own team of searchers waiting just inside the entrance, a typical afternoon’s shopping could entail a dozen searches. Years passed and technology improved, and the searches became less tactile, but Christmas shopping remained a nightmare as all bags and parcels had to be searched as well. Nipping into a newsagent for a paper could take thirty minutes as you queued to be frisked.

Eventually the terrorism threat decreased and stores could stand down their searchers. But it took some time before the Belfast people dropped the habit of raising their arms whenever they walked through a door. It was so deeply engrained that I remember on one occasion ‘assuming the position’ when I entered Saks, attracting more than a few puzzled glances from the New Yorkers.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 1, 2010 5:22 am

    I never understood why people are so willing to sacrifice their liberty and freedom for security. And this so-called security will never be perfect. Yet here we are as citizens stripping down for airline agents. Ever read the 4th amendment to the US Constitution about the government not being allowed to use unreasonable search and seizure? TSA seems to be breaking this in a big way. We are of the herd mentality to be sure.

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