The next time you go through airport security, you may be getting felt up in an entirely different way by Transportation Security Administration agents if you decide to opt out of electronic screening and have to undergo the new full pat-down.
The Washington Post reports that the new pat-downs are apparently so intrusive, the TSA felt it necessary to notify local law enforcement about its new methods.
While the pat-down doesn’t involve any different areas of the body than were frisked previously, a TSA official told the Post Monday that the agency has taken steps to make the searches more uniform and thorough.
The current procedure as written on the TSA website:
Pat-down procedures are used to determine whether prohibited items or other threats to transportation security are concealed on the person. You may be required to undergo a pat-down procedure if the screening technology alarms, as part of random or unpredictable security measures, for enhanced screening, or as an alternative to other types of screening, such as advanced imaging technology screening. Even passengers who normally receive expedited screening, such as TSA Pre✓®passengers, may at times receive a pat-down.
A pat-down may include inspection of the head, neck, arms, torso, legs, and feet. This includes head coverings and sensitive areas such as breasts, groin, and the buttocks. You may be required to adjust clothing during the pat-down. The officer will advise you of the procedure to help you anticipate any actions before you feel them. Pat-downs require sufficient pressure to ensure detection.
TSA officers use the back of the hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body. In limited cases, additional screening involving a sensitive area pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist.
You will receive a pat-down by an officer of the same gender. TSA officers will explain the procedures to you as they conduct the pat-down. Please inform an officer if you have difficulty raising your arms or remaining in the position required; an external medical device; or areas of the body that are painful when touched. You may request a chair to sit if needed.
At any time during the process, you may request private screening accompanied by a companion of your choice. A second officer of the same gender will always be present during private screening.
The TSA official told the Post that the new pat-down method was developed in response to a 2015 report by the Department of Homeland Security that found lapses in TSA’s screening procedures, including the failure of TSA screeners to find a fake explosive taped to the body of an undercover officer who was part of an operation designed to test airport screening measures.
Bloomberg, which first reported on the TSA’s alerting local law enforcement, notes that the TSA has not specified where and how employees will be touching travelers as part of the more invasive search procedure.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has declined to say exactly where—and how—employees will be touching air travelers as part of the more invasive physical pat-down procedure it recently ordered.
But the agency does expect some passengers to consider the examination unusual. In fact, the TSA decided to inform local police in case anyone calls to report an “abnormal” federal frisking, according to a memo from an airport trade association obtained by Bloomberg News. The physical search, for those selected to have one, is what the agency described as a more “comprehensive” screening, replacing five separate kinds of pat-downs it previously used.
Bloomberg notes that TSA employees currently use the back of the hand for pat-downs but will now use “the front of their hands on a passenger in a private screening area if one of the prior screening methods indicates the presence of explosives.”
I have personally already complained about the way the TSA pats me down during screening. Even when I go through the electronic scanner, I have had my hair patted down as well as my breasts, which is incredibly invasive. First of all, don’t touch my fucking hair. Second? Getting felt up as a woman, even when it’s by another woman, is not the most pleasant experience if you have not specifically asked for it. This taking place in the middle of an airport security check with everyone staring at you is the most uncomfortable.
Any of you traveling soon? Report back to us with your findings.