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A Peek At the National Opt-Out Day Numbers 297

Posted by timothy
from the was-a-good-day-to-drive dept.
Yesterday was a big travel day for Americans, and the organizers of National Opt-Out Day hoped to use it to highlight widespread, though not universal, dissatisfaction with stepped-up screening measures in US airports, by encouraging people selected for body screening to insist instead on the pat-down alternative. Reader Willtor writes with a story in the New York Times on the effect of the protest: "'39 people had opted out of the body scans in Atlanta by 5 p.m. In Los Angeles, 113 had. One had opted out in Charlotte, N.C. Boston seemed to have something of a mini-spike, with 300.' This is a tiny fraction of passengers, of course. But when I flew out of Boston this afternoon, they had opened a line that led to a traditional metal detector. When I flew out in June all lines went to the nudie scanners. Is it safe to be optimistic that we have been heard and policies have changed? I am not particularly concerned whether we get credit or whether it is reported that the protest fizzled. But it would be nice to know that some of the more invasive theatrics have become optional." According to its organizers, meanwhile, the opt-out protest was a "rousing success." If you traveled yesterday by air, what was your impression?
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A Peek At the National Opt-Out Day Numbers

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  • Duh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:15PM (#34344858)
    It was arousing success ;)
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:16PM (#34344874)

    They are switching to standard metal detectors until the furor dies down, then they will ramp up with the scanning and patting.

    I expect the switch to resume after Thanksgiving when most travelers will be business travelers who can't afford to spend their time protesting.

    Now, if the TSA is right about the necessity of these scanners and enhanced patdowns, this move to temporarily disable the scanners seems like a massive security problem.

    • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:22PM (#34344908)
      Not only does the TSA not plan to make any changes in response to the scanner issue, they have said that they would like similar "security" for Amtrak and Greyhound. Next up, searches and scanners at malls. Folks, it's too late. We let them have their way for the pas 9 years or so, and they have grown too strong to stop.
    • by IICV (652597) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:29PM (#34344958)

      Yup, that's what I've been hearing - that the TSA is shutting down the naked people scanners today, presumably in order to deflate the number of people who opt-out of naked people scanning.

      What I would really like to see is the number of people who went through the naked people scanners, as a percentage of the total number of passengers passing through airports today. If the TSA was purposefully shutting down the naked scanners in order to deflate the number of people who can object to going through them, then that sort of manipulation would show up in such a statistic.

      • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:42PM (#34345056) Homepage

        Yup, that's what I've been hearing - that the TSA is shutting down the naked people scanners today, presumably in order to deflate the number of people who opt-out of naked people scanning.

        Actually, I strongly suspect it's because, let's face it, the scanners hurt overall passenger throughput, which would make a bad travel day absolutely horrendous.

        Which, of course, is really quite ironic: during a period when you probably want real, functional security procedures the most (ie, when the most people are traveling), the TSA has to ratchet down their policies in order to handle the load...

        • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:54PM (#34345130) Homepage

          "Which, of course, is really quite ironic: during a period when you probably want real, functional security procedures the most (ie, when the most people are traveling), the TSA has to ratchet down their policies in order to handle the load..."

          There is nothing ironic about it at all. It is simply proof that even the TSA doesn't believe their own bullshit regarding the importance of said scanners for the purpose they claim. The scanners are already serving their purpose, which is to generate lots of cash and kickbacks. On the one hand they are claiming it keeps things super secure, and on the other the authorities are looking into the possibility a teen stowed away on a plane from North Carolina to Logan [bostonherald.com]. I mean, which is it? These procedures are super important and keep us all safe, or these procedures may well have not even been able to keep some random teen from stowing away on a plane?

        • by nu1x (992092) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @05:02PM (#34345164)

          > Which, of course, is really quite ironic: during a period when you probably want real, functional security procedures the most (ie, when > the most people are traveling), the TSA has to ratchet down their policies in order to handle the load...

          Which proves that, the scanners are there not to protect people at the most vulnerable travel day if you would look at it from common sense perspective, but rather, to train the cattle to be more obedient cattle.

        • by Apuleius (6901) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @06:23PM (#34345720) Journal

          If on the busiest travel day of the year, the TSA felt it was more important to get people on the planes than to scan them like that, which means they know perfectly well the risk of a terror attack is not that great, and the scanners do fuckall to address the risk.

          Now we just have to rub it in their faces.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, I was all set to opt-out on Wednesday but they just sent me through the regular metal detector like they used to before this whole mess started. Opt-out numbers aren't so meaningful if you don't even have the chance to opt-out.

    • Now, if the TSA is right about the necessity of these scanners and enhanced pat-downs, this move to temporarily disable the scanners seems like a massive security problem.

      If they were sure they were right, they would never bypass them. The fact that they do indicates that they are not a necessity, just a convenience or scare tactic. Rumor is that the enhanced pat-downs were initiated to "encourage" people into accepting the back-scatter scans.

      I read an article that the TSA is considering software to ei

    • by Alex Zepeda (10955) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @08:37PM (#34346510)
      Let's make one thing very clear: these are not pat downs. What I went through when I traveled last year was a (sloppy) pat down. When the TSA needs to inspect your vagina [gladrags.com] because you're wearing a non-standard menstruation undergarmet, you've gone well past a pat down. Depending on your interpretation of what [reference.com] rape [reference.com] is [reference.com], it may be appropriate to call the TSA's actions rape or sexual assault.
  • by Peganthyrus (713645) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:22PM (#34344912) Homepage

    I didn't see anyone getting a pat-down, "enhanced" or otherwise. Just the same old shoes-on-the-xray-belt routine as always.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by itwerx (165526)

      Seatac is one of the few airports with TSA staff who have a reasonably sane approach to this BS. I've had two positive interactions with them recently.
      First was my young daughter being selected randomly for one of their more extreme searches. The TSA staffer who was on point for those clearly wasn't happy but grimaced and waved her over, ready to follow the rules no matter how insane. An apparently higher ranking TSA person stopped him though saying quietly, "C'mon, it's a little gi

      • by liquidsin (398151) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @10:22PM (#34346992) Homepage

        how fucked up is it when the nicest thing anyone has to say about the TSA is that they didn't fondle his daughter and let him have bottled water after they "examined it fairly closely". and you refer to these as "positive interactions"...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
          Both the security guard and their supervisor broke procedure and policy, risking their jobs. Consider that there are more than likely thousands of people queueing up for these jobs (perverts and predators included, I'd wager), I don't see it being a problem replacing those who won't tow the line.

          I'd say it's a good experience to meet a decent human being who understands that there's more to security on air travel than making people carry tiny bottles of water and feeling up children. It's not the best, but
  • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:23PM (#34344914)

    This was entirely predictable. It's not easy to convince people to let other people--strangers of the same gender--touch them intimately as a form of protest.

    It was also predictable that the media would spin it as a failure.

    In fact, it probably helped speed security clearances on one of the busiest travel days of the year, because the TSA planned for a larger disruption. At least, that is what I would do, to be safe, and I'd imagine they did it.

    The major media covers the story by repeating the TSA talking point that the majority of Americans support the scans. They base this on a Washington Post/ABC poll: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postpoll_11222010.html?sid=ST2009122902788 [washingtonpost.com]

    I do think you'd get different numbers if you polled at the airport.

    • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:41PM (#34345044)

      What I'm seeing in these articles are simply lies.

      A woman says "I took the scanner, because I was even more unfomfortable with the enhanced pat down" and that's spun as supporting scanners. That's a bald faced lie.

      Another woman says "I took the scanner, because I thought if I opted out I would look suspicious, and I just want to get through without a hassle", and that's spun as "not being against scanners"...

      For my part, I'd submit to get onto a plane too. My last flight was part of a $5000 vacation package. If my wife and I are not on the plane, its not like we get the money back. I want to enjoy my vacation, and not watch $5k go up in smoke to make a point at the airport.

      Bottom line, you can't look at how much resistance you actually see at airports. Its a coercive environment, they hold your vacation or business trip, your freedom, and even your dignity over your head. For a lot of people these are "high stakes"... make a fuss and your expensive flight is missed, your relaxing vacation, or family visit, or business meeting is ruined. And instead your in some sort of legal limbo where they can confiscate your stuff, strip search you, delay you indefinitly... Its no wonder that most travellers just want to fade into the background and get to their destination without hassle.

      People don't support for the TSA system. They are terrified of it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 25, 2010 @05:05PM (#34345182)

        People don't support for the TSA system. They are terrified of it.

        And now we can all see who the real 'terrorists' are.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        IMO part of the problem is that they positioned the protest wrong. People don't want to screw up time with family to make a protest. If you cause a fuss you may never get where you're going. If they'd set the protest for sunday it would be a protest coming back. And you could always tell your boss you got caught up in the protest, true or not. Going out do you really want to explain to your relatives that you were busy protesting?

        The other thing is people travelling with kids might not want to protest

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by anyGould (1295481)

          Agreed - advertising a single "boycott day" sounds great on paper, but it makes it easy to control and spin.

          This needs to be an "everyday" thing - "don't be an exhibitionist - avoid the scanners"

        • by cetialphav (246516) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @07:37PM (#34346236)

          IMO part of the problem is that they positioned the protest wrong.

          Actually, I think they did a pretty good job with this. This protest generated a lot of news stories about these scanners and that is a good thing. Without this protest, any stories about scanners would be filled with quotes from TSA officials about how much this makes us safe and their would be no counterpoint to this. The threat of a great disturbance on the busiest travel day of the year drove lots of stories with people that are critical of the scanners. It also forced the TSA to answer these criticisms in a highly publicized way. The press seems to sense that the TSA arguments seem week and this has led the press to be more skeptical of TSA claims. These are all good things.

          Now whether this momentum will continue remains to be seen. I'm not too worried about the number of opt-out's for this day because there are tons of people who would be willing to protest, but happened to not be traveling on protest day. But if it gets into people's heads that it is okay to skip the scanner, then we will see a longer term trend of opt-outs and that will greatly undermine the TSA's position. It is going to take a long, concerted effort to inject some sanity into the TSA.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Rik Rohl (1399705)

        And if that isn't the very definition of Tyranny, i don't know what is.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by c6gunner (950153)

          tyranny /trni/ Show Spelled[tir-uh-nee] Show IPA
          –noun,plural-nies.
          1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
          2. the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
          3. a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
          4. oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
          5. undue severity or harshness.
          6. a tyrannical act or proceeding.

          YW!

      • by random_ID (1822712) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @06:36PM (#34345802)
        Freedom isn't free.

        If Americans want freedom, they will have to stand up and deal with the inconvenience of ruined trips.

        Or buckle and give up their freedom.
      • by Cimexus (1355033) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:29AM (#34347674)

        Mod parent up...this is exactly right.

        I'm not an American, but my wife is. I therefore enter the US to visit family on a regular basis ... over 20 visits in the last decade. The first time I visited was in 2001, prior to 9/11. The change I have seen in US airports in that time is stunning.

        I put up with the slower, more detailed bag x-rays. I put up with the taking your shoes off crap (that you don't have to do in any other country). I put up with the dudes at the immigration desk becoming far more threatening and suspicious and just downright rude.

        I ... reluctantly ... put up with the fact that they took first one, then two, and now ALL TEN of my fingerprints on every entry. To put this in perspective, in my country, fingerprints are not used as a form of ID as they seem to be in the US. The only people who have their fingerprints recorded are criminals. So the only people on earth who have a record of my fingerprints are a FOREIGN government (not even my own government has them). Does that seem ridiculous to anyone else? But I digress...

        But this year when I entered I had to go through the damn nudie scanners. Now I realised I could opt out, and I did. But as a foreigner, they really gave me the once over. Now let me clarify here - I'm Australian - I speak English, I'm white, I have no criminal record, and I in no way would be considered a 'high risk' profile. But they made it very clear that they didn't want scary foreigners like me opting out of the scanning. And frankly, next trip, I will just go through the damn scanner. The alternative took ten times longer and was far more invasive and left me with a bad impression of the US as a whole. I thought the fingerprinting was the final straw for me but no, this is ridiculous.

        So yes, the TSA is terrifying. They make the alternatives to the scanner very unattractive due to the lost time and increased questioning. So people 'preferring the scanner' is not because the like the idea. It's just the lesser of two evils.

        It's a real shame - I love visiting the US. For all it's flaws it's a fascinating country. But GETTING there is such an awful experience that I would never do it if not for the fact I have family there. The American tourism industry must REALLY be hurting, because everyone I talk to here says "oh I'd love to go to the US, but all that security and fingerprinting ... no thanks". They all go to Europe or Asia instead.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I'm in pretty much the exact same situation myself. My wife's family is over in the states, and that's the only reason I don't just say "fuck this shit" and abandon the US forever. I've felt like a criminal suspect every time I've entered the land of the free, and it only gets worse.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How was it predictable that the media would spin it as a failure? As far as I can see the general sentiment from the media has been the exact opposite. Many outlets say the public might revolt because of increasingly invasive TSA "security theatre". The reality is that the majority of travelers just don't care.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      My guess is that the Big Sis and her fun loving civil liberty thefts are laughing all the way to the bank on this one. 1/3 of a billion in sales (at least) for Chertoff and clan as well, kickbacks to governmint officials and the public protestors are seen as a loose bunch of losers that can't organize a real movement. There has to be more than a protest 'day', which is easily skipped. There has to be a civil unrest and protest that lasts months or years for there to be any chance of change. So many that
    • This was entirely predictable. It's not easy to convince people to let other people--strangers of the same gender--touch them intimately as a form of protest.

      From the WSJ:

      George Donnelly, one of the organizers of the Opt Out day boycott, said Wednesday that his group hadn't received any reports of significant opt-outs. He said the group will continue its efforts after the Thanksgiving holiday. Few Travel Problems, as 'Opt Out' Day Fizzles [wsj.com]

      It's Thanksgiving.

      Flights are booked solid weeks - often months - in

  • Not in NC (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheUnknownOne (810624)
    My cousin traveled up from North Carolina, said there were no pat downs, or scanners. (He said he saw the scanners, but they weren't using them)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:30PM (#34344976)

    It's hard to opt-out if the thing you're opting out of is roped off and not used.

    This was a brilliant move by an organization that is not known for its brilliance, ever. Somebody at the TSA is sipping champagne and laughing today at pulling the rug out from underneath the protesters' feet.

    The scanners will be back online within days, and then it will be more of the same from the gestapo. But the protest? FAIL. All of the mainstream stories show this to be a non-issue, and now the "protest" numbers back this up in the TSA's world of spin. We got played.

    Comply citizen.

  • by dlenmn (145080) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:31PM (#34344986) Homepage

    If you traveled yesterday by air, what was your impression?

    I flew out of Milwaukee, WI, got through security in only a few minutes, and the TSA people were very nice.

    I guess that makes me a sheep for bending to the will of the government that's hellbent on making me in to a slave. Or something.

    • "I flew out of Milwaukee, WI, got through security in only a few minutes, and the TSA people were very nice."

      Don't you find that people are usually nice to you when they are grabbing your vagina?

  • I'm sitting in the Charlotte, NC departure lounge right now. They had a few people going through the backscatter machines at ORD, but shut them down while I was in line and sent everybody through the magnetometers instead. Pretty clearly, the TSA backed off on universal body-scanning for the holiday.

    Funniest thing I saw in Chicago was the guy in front of me trying to opt-out of the metal detector, and get a pat-down instead. He was a little confused.
  • If they wanted to cause some issues and slowdowns, everybody flying should have been hiding metal and more all over their person.

    Or everybody should have shown up with a large knife.

    What's the TSA going to do, then?

    Not much since they're sorely outnumbered.

  • Better stunt (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Any time there's an opportunity to ask a someone in federal government a public interview question, ask: "Now that your government has first-hand knowledge of my genitals, how do you feel about their shape? Do you think about them at night? Do they satisfy you?" Expect to get thrown out, but convince enough people to do it and the media would have a field day.
  • Missing data (Score:5, Informative)

    by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @05:19PM (#34345246) Homepage Journal
    The numbers don't account for people who, like myself, decided to just not fly at all. I go to Las Vegas a few times a year, and while it used to be fun to fly I have decided to drive instead because of all the TSA nonsense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aclarke (307017)
      Yeah. I live in Canada and will no longer travel to the US if I can at all avoid it. I'm actually going to a conference in Edinburgh instead of Dallas, TX in a couple months, in large part to avoid the US. It will cost me less and be more fun too. Citizens of most countries (Canada included) seem hell-bent on bending over and letting our governments shaft us, but as in most things, America seems to be leading the way.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @05:23PM (#34345288) Homepage

    The protest was a success well before yesterday. The goal of such civic participation in government is to raise public awareness. The head of the TSA had to think about this, and talk about it in the national media. This enlivened the public debate. That is the exact definition of victory.

    If one wants to muse about more concrete short-term victories, consider the lines at the airports yesterday. I have flown on the day before Thanksgiving -- it is not pretty. According to reports, yesterday went significantly more smoothly than in the past. Think about the cause/effect. I suspect the TSA decided they had to stage a good show of efficiency yesterday to defuse the opt-out protest. They put on extra staff and gave rousing pep talks -- and; the airports sucked a little bit less yesterday than they would have otherwise. That is a nice outcome. The protest changed the behavior of our government for a day.

    Did this one effort to organize civic participation go exactly as designed and solve the whole problem in one shot? Of course not. Decentralized civic displays -- almost by definition -- cannot work like that.

    Civic management of government is a process, and this was a fine step. Much like our debates here in these forums are part of the process. It is the road to a better society. An endless and engaging road winding through an increasingly healthy societal system.

    Or more viscerally: It is like using a spray bottle of water to train a puppy; we're going to have to do it more than once before the government learns not to poop on the carpet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If I ever received mod points, I would mod you up. I especially like the last line.

  • by turing_m (1030530) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @05:37PM (#34345394)
    I am more than a little surprised to see that there is no or very little images of people that have shown up in public. I would surely think by now, given the likely IQ and motivation of someone joining the TSA, you'd have "best of TSA nudie scan" torrents available now for every possible fetish. Even if they are going to get traced back to the originator of the torrent and leading to their dismissal. But so far nothing. What is wrong with you people?!?

    But seriously, this whole charade must be about one picture of a VIP's micro-tool away from being permanently canned.

  • by melted (227442) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @06:01PM (#34345566) Homepage

    The real litmus test for this is whether you'd support a nasty, middle-Eastern looking guy with a thick beard and a white prayer cap, if he chooses to opt out. I know it's all just security theatre and so on, but I'd like to see the reaction of the folks who opt out on principle if they end up in this situation, and have to board the plane with this dude who also opted out.

  • TESTIFY! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Apuleius (6901) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @06:07PM (#34345606) Journal

    The TSA decided that the Opt Out protest was a bigger concern than Al Qaeda.

    That is a tacit admission that 1. the threat is not that great and 2. these damn scanners accomplish nothing to reduce it.

    Don't let them forget this!

  • Cut to the chase (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @06:21PM (#34345704) Homepage Journal

    Let's cut to the chase already.

    What they really want is for every house to have a scanner like that on the entrance, so you are scanned and/or patted down every time you enter and exit your house and every other building (and of-course every mode of transportation as well, including the buses, planes, trains and automobiles, yachts and ships and dirigibles and even you bikes.)

    This is actually very amusing to me, as I was born in the USSR and one of our best satirists ever (Zhvanetsky) had a few monologues, where he described the soviet experiences in a half-imaginary way

    Here is one of the monologues (my translation):

    As usually, you are going somewhere, the face as usually is facing forward; The back of the head has no clue.
    All of a sudden from behind:
    - Continue moving!
    - I am continuing.
    - So go as you are going.
    - I am going as I am going.
    - Take a little to the right.
    - Will take... taking.
    - Don't talk!
    - I am silent.
    - Stand there, don't look back!
    - Standing. Not looking. Letting something pass on the left. What is that behind me?
    - DO NOT LOOK BACK!
    - Not looking.
    - OK, you are free to go!
    - Yes, I am free!

    here is another one, please don't get on my case for the translation style, it's difficult to translate something well anyway, and to make it even remotely funny while doing so is just ... very hard and I was trying to keep to the way the monologue was read, which was with leaving many of the necessary verbs out of the text on purpose, to create an 'air' of the idea that not every word needs to be spelled out for the listener.

    Turnstiles.

    At the end of every street need to set up turnstiles. Obviously, you can walk this and that way, as much as you want, but this is pure lack of responsibility - going wherever you want. So at the end of each street set up the turnstiles. Nothing special. They should let everybody through for now without any questions. Don't be afraid. Only the ricketting noise lets you know... And the security guards with sleeve insignia. Let them stand there and let everybody through. For now. Just their presense, just the steel stare... You are coming towards them - the face is burning up, you pass them - you back is burning up. And they are not asking anything... yet. This is the entire effect. And it's increasing the discipling. And at any moment you can lock everything up. Those with special commands have access to any house, etc.

    By the perimeter of the plaza - until the security checkpoint. A man is walking along the fence, with the hands moving over the fence. Let's suppose three, four times he moves the hands over the fence - and into the security checkpoint, where NOBODY is stopping him, though the security guards are standing there of-course. Special paint on the fence, easy to check the fingerprints, this and that, etc. My god, nobody REALLY will be taking the fingerprints off the fence, don't worry about it. But in case there is some emergency... the fingerprints are right there and what are you going to do? For now of-course, let them go through without showing any papers. Though to have the papers on your person, that's for sure, just in case they mustc check, some emergency, etc. So obviously as you are coming closer towards the guard there, you already want to show something. To come through without showing - that's only to be suffering in doubt. In time you won't mind any of the checks. It will be a shame to walk around unchecked. All the more so - to come of a sudden and somewhere, as you do now. Or to yell - "my house is my castle" - that's just from internal immorality.

    But IN the corridors you don't need to put security guards. For now. You have to start at the entrance, of-co

  • by guanxi (216397) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @06:37PM (#34345814)

    The source is an opinion piece that is quoting the TSA, both of which have reasons to release numbers that serve their purposes.

  • by saleenS281 (859657) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:30AM (#34347678) Homepage
    The TSA has been lying about their numbers. First, they claimed 5 minute waits at LAX. Anyone who has ever been through LAX knows that's a complete lie. LAX has NEVER had a 5 minute wait-time. I flew out of there yesterday... the wait was an hour. I was there at 7am, and for the 15 minutes or so I was actually within view of the machines, there were 10 people that opted out (roughly 2/3rds of the people they actually tried to send through the machine). I STRONGLY doubt their numbers. Furthermore, out of the Minneapolis airport, they turned all the scanners off (I've heard they did that many places). At best, someone should be fired for lying to the public.

    Oh, I also tried pointing out that their numbers were not correct, they wouldn't approve my comment.
  • My experience at BOS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BillX (307153) on Friday November 26, 2010 @02:03AM (#34347796) Homepage

    It was going to be grand. I had worn my nicest boxers, with a button-fly to ensure no actual laws would be violated, even accidentally (giving a valid reason to jail me). No belt, loose-fitting jeans. When the man asked to to step into the scanner, I would politely accept, step inside and, when his back was turned, drop 'em.

    "Oh-h say can you SEE, by the dawn's early LIGHT!..."

    Amid the lengthy mouse-maze queue of holiday travelers, a few lightbulbs would come on as the irony began to sink in. Nervous TSA officials would move in. Maybe they'd react, pulling me aside by force, ordering me to shut my face and put my pants back on. Maybe I'd get through the whole thing before being tased into submisison.

    "In the land of the FREE, and the home of the BRAVE!..." *dzzt!* *thud*

    What really happened:

    My gf and I show up at the Logan Airport security checkpoint. It was a ghost town. We present our boarding passes (not IDs); I swear I see a tumbleweed blow by. Every TSA lane is staffed, but where are the passengers? There are exactly two travelers ahead of us, in separate lanes, and nobody behind. They're gone by the time we get our shoes off and all our crap onto the conveyer. Dropping my pants for a handful of screeners and zero travelers suddenly doesn't seem worthwhile any more.

      My gf (who is not particularly bothered by the body scan) steps into the scanner, and I get waved through the metal detector, despite there being two other open scanners and nobody behind us in line. Cheery TSA guy at the metal detector says he likes my t-shirt. If I was a bad guy, you'd have seen it on the news already, because this "screen" was a complete joke. Afterward, I realized I was so busy contemplating my own "security theater" performance that I left my laptop in its case inside my backpack. They didn't care. My gf had separately forgotten to unpack her big bag o' liquids. They didn't care.

    Conclusions:
    TSA's "solution" to both the holiday crush and the potential protests was to drop the theater act and just let everyone sail on through. To me, this speaks volumes about both their perceived effectiveness and value of the new "enhanced" security processes. I can't say to what extent the potential for protests was a factor in this, but if it was, this was a doubly-brilliant move on the part of the TSA. The best way to stop a protest cold is to take away its audience, and that is exactly what happened here. Meanwhile, everyday sheep travelers are probably marveling at how painless the process was today - on the busiest travel day of the year! - and making associations between this and the new body scanner procedure. Well played, TSA, well played.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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