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One empowered woman's struggle against the world
Thursday April 9th 2020

Walk Through the Scanner – TSA

mom says

Ever since the announcement came out about Transportation Security Administration (TSA) going to the body scanners and the new pat-down procedures, I have been on the phone.  I wanted all the inside information on what was going on with TSA and the new procedures.  You see I used to work for TSA.  Almost five years with the most hated US government agency, even more hated than the IRS.  At least it is paying off somewhere.

I really have two minds about TSA.  From being on the inside and doing the job I understand why TSA does some of the things they do and will defend those things regardless of my personal feelings for TSA.  On the other hand, TSA does things they don’t need to do that makes the job harder on the front line employees and the traveling public.

I have five years of experience with TSA.  I was in the first TSA training class in Orlando and the first TSA group to take over the Orlando International Airport.  I have worked every aspect of the TSA officer job.  I worked the checkpoints, baggage, international flights, and the cargo area.  I have been gone for the past three years but still have some very good friends who work there.  For full disclosure I was fired from TSA in 2007.  I believe, strongly enough to file a Federal lawsuit against TSA, that I was fired in retaliation for Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) participation.  I can’t really discuss it but thought it should be disclosed.

Body Scanners

women being scanned with TSA body scanner

Courtsey of

The body scanners are just what they are called – body scanners.  They will scan your entire body and produce a pretty detailed naked picture of you on the screen.  Will some TSA employees point and laugh behind the scenes, YES!  Will some call their buddies over for a really good looking or well-endowed male or female passenger they just screened, YES!  Will some TSA employees make fun of any oddities they see, YES!  Is it unprofessional, YES!

So who wants to be subjected to that kind of ridicule?  No one does, but fact is you won’t be subjected to it because you won’t see the employee that is doing the screening.  The TSA officer is in a separate area from the passenger.  This is done to ensure privacy.  It sounds harsh to say but any offense is in your head.  You won’t actually know if that unprofessional behavior is going on or not, in regards to your particular image.  It doesn’t make it right on the part of the TSA officer but that is an issue that TSA management needs to make sure is under control.  TSA management is the one that should be monitoring the employees to make sure that type of unprofessional behavior is dealt with.  If they don’t and you become aware of the unprofessional behavior, then you have a good case to complain.  You the passenger should never know the unprofessional behavior is going on so you have to trust that TSA management is doing their job and removing employees that can’t do their job in a professional manner.  You have to trust that TSA is doing everything they can to ensure your security and your comfort but security comes first.

I am not saying that people have no right to care about being seen naked.  Of course you have a right to care.  Air travel, though, is not a right.  It is a conditional use mode of transportation.  If you want to use that mode of transportation then you have to meet the requirements to use it.  Right now one of those requirements is the body scanner.  TSA is listening and is looking into ways to alleviate the passengers’ concerns but TSA’s job is security so when they have to choose, passenger concern over security, security wins out.  The concern of the naked images is so great that L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. and OSI Systems Inc.’s Rapiscan have created an upgrade to their technology.  This upgrade changes the image on the screen from the actual naked image of the passenger to a generic avatar that highlights any areas that need to be checked.  TSA is reviewing and testing out this upgrade to see if it meets the security requirements necessary.  If this new technology can meet TSA security requirements and alleviate passenger concern then great but if it can’t the naked images will be used.

Reader Feedback

19 Responses to “Walk Through the Scanner – TSA”

  1. […] Disclaimer – This version is very direct and blunt.  If you offend easily read the long version here. […]
    • Gabby says:
      I think people should stop watching TV news and stop believing that TSA is evil. I ask all passengers, exactly how would you suggest security be performed? When another 9/11 happens you will be screaming that there should have been MORE security. Is it really so awful to have to surrender that bottle of water you knew you couldn’t take on board or to have a pat-down because you neglected to empty your pockets as instructed? I have traveled for work for years and continue to see these Transportation Security Officers treated as if they brought down the twin towers themselves. Those officers you roll your eyes at, scream at for missing your plane (your fault, not theirs) are no different than you or I. Get over yourselves.
  2. Private Citizen says:
    And fuck you again.
    • Demosthenes says:
      I’m not usually give to common vulgarities, but frankly, I’m with Private Citizen on this one. No other phrase so succinctly and elegantly captures my outrage at your condescension toward the concerns of ordinary American citizens, your rationalizations about unprofessional behavior on the part of a cadre of American government officials doing very un-American things, and your history of violating the rights of your fellow citizens and human beings, as “Fuck you.”
  3. Toon says:
    I note, irrelevantly but with some interest, that your “long version” is shorter than the potentially offensive “short version” … but at least there’s less to get distracted by, so I can take a look at your main point here.

    You seem to be making the argument that this practice is merely susceptible to abuse, and not inherently wrong. I would argue that it is wrong even if every single TSA employee conducts himself or herself with perfect professionalism.

    Let me break it down: It is not okay for strangers to look at me naked. I don’t care how they behave while they’re doing it. And it does not make it better if I can’t see them doing it.

    (If anything, not knowing makes it worse. I suspect you would agree if we took the TSA out of it.)

    I’m particularly struck by your assertion that “any offense is in your head.” Of course it is. In the head is where all offense happens. Offense happens because we have minds and not just instincts, beliefs and not just behaviors. Offense happens when we become aware of behavior or speech that contradicts what we believe to be right. That’s what offense means.

    • Toon says:
      My mistake on that first note about the length — I missed the page numbers. Let me read the rest of this and see if I have any more to say.
    • mom says:
      You can’t control people talking about you when you are out in public. People will pass judgments and make nasty comments about you that you will never hear and some you will hear. You don’t walk around offended thinking that every person you see may be saying something, at least I hope you don’t. That is what I mean by in your head. You don’t know if they are commenting about you or not. You can assume they are and be offended or assume they aren’t and not be offended. We make the choice whether to be offended or not. Someone can only offend us if we let them. I respect you find it offensive and you have every right to feel the way you do. If you can’t not (I know double negative) feel offended because it just goes beyond your limitation that is perfectly fine. We are not all the same or think the same.

      As for the comment that I didn’t state it was wrong. I don’t have a problem with the x-ray scanner not at all. But I am not going to tell other people how to feel about it. I will tell you why I think you shouldn’t be offended or worried about it or why I think it is ok but ultimately only you can decide whether it is right or wrong for you. I have no desire to tell people how to live their life. One of the things I do here on this site is give parenting advice. But I tell people all the time to do what works for them. I will tell you how I deal with a parental situation and why I believe it is effective and the best way in the whole wide world but ultimately you are the parent of your own child and you have to decide what is best for them.

      • Toon says:
        I think you may be confusing “offended” with “insulted”.

        I can choose not to imagine that people are saying nasty things about me; of course I can. But — as I said above, only you seem to have missed it — I find it offensive for strangers to look at me naked regardless of whether or not they are saying nasty things about me.

        “You’re imagining things” is not a valid response to this complaint. At all.

        And … oh, now you’re just messing with me. If you can say you aren’t going to tell anybody else how to feel or how to live their lives, and honestly believe that you mean it, I don’t even begin to know how to get through that level of cognitive dissonance.

        • mom says:
          I am not messing with you. Maybe I stated that incorrectly or without clarity. Ultimately how someone lives their life is their choice and it should be their choice because they have to take responsibility for their choices in life. I can tell you what to do all day long but I also tell people to make their own choice.

          I tell you the one thing I have learned from this experience is that I have to be careful because my writing can go out much further than the people who come here and read everything. You are reading one thing about me and forming all of your opinions about me based on that one writing. People who have followed me get exactly what I mean. I need to pay more attention that when I write stuff that can be potentially volatile.

        • mom says:
          I do understand your point. You find it offensive for strangers to look at you naked period. It doesn’t matter if I think you shouldn’t be offended. You find it offensive and have every right to complain and your complaint should be taken seriously no matter what you may or may not have done in the past or if the person you are complaining to thinks you shouldn’t be offended. Is that more accurate?
        • mom says:
          Actually I think I was confusing offensive and offended. Being offended it a state of being and you can control that. Finding something offensive is the way you feel about something. Seems like semantics but there is a difference.
  4. Toon says:
    And as it turns out, just one more thing.

    You wrote: I don’t like that I am defending TSA at all but it is really the front line employees I wrote this for.

    See, on this? I can absolutely support you. It is not okay for passengers to harass security people — they aren’t the ones who set policy.

    But you don’t have to defend the TSA in order to defend the front line employees. You don’t have to say “suck it up and deal” to air travelers in order to say “guys, seriously, don’t curse out and abuse the security types who have to implement these policies.” Which could make a very good post in itself … but that’s not the post you wrote.

    • mom says:
      I do agree with some of what TSA is doing. I have my own personal issues with TSA and for those reason I didn’t want to defend them. But I will always defend someone’s or in this case TSA’s legal right to do something. Just because I will defend a person’s right to bear arms doesn’t mean I agree that they should have them. Or abortion rights. I wouldn’t personally do it nor do I think it should be the way its but they have a legal right to do it and until that changes I will defend their legal right to do it. If someone said come and actually support and defend abortion, the action, I would decline. There is a difference between supporting the legal right to do something and the actual action itself. Right now Congress and the courts have given TSA the legal right to do what they do.

      I don’t know if you read through the comments but in general because I defend the right I am deemed several different things and not one of them good. Doesn’t matter that I don’t even work for TSA anymore I am still evil. Just the fact that I did work for them made me evil in their eyes and they had every right to be rude, disrespectful, insulting and just plain nasty to me. Remember I don’t work there anymore. What they will do to the front line employees that still work there is going to be much nastier. I have been here hoping that maybe people would understand that TSA has the legal right to do what they do so don’t beat up the employees for doing something that is entirely legal. Whether it is right or wrong is not for me to decide for anyone else. I can only make that decision for me.

  5. Cato_Uticensis says:
    Sorry mom…your whole world view is totally compromised. These procedures are inexcusable…anyone who believes otherwise for security’s sake have their head firmly lodged in their lower bowel. I for one am going to give TSA agents an earful. They will hear me proclaim my love of liberty and my sarcastic gratitude for their emancipating sexual assault. The TSA agents do have power. They can ALL strike until the policy is changed…and change it will. Grow some integrity and some sense and do the right thing. Time is running out for this country and we’ll all be in chains.
    • Gabby says:
      I say his with no nastiness – How should security be conducted? What procedures are effective, necessary and / or warranted? I wouldn’t feel safe if there was none.

      Also, the newer machines show a cookie cutter avatar. No parts are seen.

  6. URL says:
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