My Personal “Pat-Down” Experience


By: Kristia Cavere

The images on television of children, the elderly, and other individuals who pose zero threat to our aviation security experiencing “pat-downs” by TSA officials at airports is disturbing. This issue became personal to me as I was forced into a pat-down and threatened that I would never get through security until I complied, and I now believe that these demeaning acts are unconstitutional.

At O’Hare airport, returning to the east coast after the Thanksgiving holiday, I purposefully stood in the long line for regular metal detectors rather than the much shorter line of those willing to go through the full-body scanners (which show graphic nude pictures including all private parts). These full-body scanners are an allusion of security, which squanders our time, money, and civil liberties. They do not detect explosives or plastic, only metal, which makes them a very expensive metal detector.
I had read Dr. Jane Orient’s, Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, latest article, “The Medical Problems of Airport Screening.” She wrote, “The radiation dose is likely the least of the problems with airport screening,” as the airport full-body scanners use low-energy backscatter technology. This kind of scanner is effective for detecting explosives in cargo, but because this radiation doesn’t penetrate far it concentrates in the skin. This effect has not been properly studied, and Dr. Orient warns, “If you had a deadly disease, and the scanner were an FDA-regulated device that might save your life, your doctor wouldn’t be allowed to use it, because of inadequate study.”

I was also aware of the letter written to President Obama by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) experts in biochemisty, biophysics, imaging, and oncology who warned of “the potential serious health risks” of the whole body scanners at airports. The scientists wrote that “real independent safety data do not exist” on the high doses that the scanners deposit into the skin.

As I was waiting on line and thinking of the many reasons why I would decline to go through a full-body scanner, a TSA official approached me and told me that I had been “randomly selected” for a pat-down. My family next to me was horrified, and the surrounding passengers were dumbfounded. I refused, and strongly pointed out that I was not opting out of the body scanner but that I was on line for the usual metal detector.

My protests were to no avail, and the TSA official grabbed my arms and forced me to walk unto a small carpet where the pat-downs were done. Threats of a lawsuit were ignored as a TSA officer began patting-down my arms and back, and then used their hands over and under my breasts. The most demeaning aspect of this intrusive experience was the pat-down of my groin and buttocks, in which the TSA officer moved their palms up my thigh, warning me that I would feel “tension” as their hands pressed upward against my crotch area.

America is moving toward a police state, under the guise of eliminating the risk of terrorism. But this false feeling of security is resulting in state-sponsored sexual harassment, and is clearly violating the Fourth Amendment’s restriction of “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Israel has equal, if not more, security threats than America does at airports. Rafi Sela, former chief security officer of the Israel Airport Authority and with more than thirty years of experience, recently stated that body scanning machines are “useless,” which is why they are not in Israeli airports. Mr. Sela advocates the two security systems that are used in the airports in Israel: behavior profiling rather than “randomly selected” searches. And a “trusted traveler” system where pre-approved low-risk passengers go through an expedited process, and passengers with more risk are exposed to more security screenings.

When the September 11th Islamofascist terrorists used box-cutters, sharp objects were banned from carry-on luggage. When a terrorist attempted to use explosives in his sneakers, all passengers had to put their shoes through screening. When terrorists inserted explosives in printer cartridges, ink cartridges were banned. When another Islamofascist terrorist hid explosives in his underwear last December, the use of nude body scanners sharply increased. Last year in Saudi Arabia, a terrorist used their anal cavity for a bomb (albeit, not at an airport). Are body cavity searches next?

Incompetent left leaning politicians and bureaucrats are creating safety profiles to protect themselves from potential lawsuits and the politically correct press, but they are doing little to actually increase our safety. Profiling is done to eliminate crime, but the largest threat to people flying in airplanes, terrorism, is not subject to profiling at airports despite the decades of success such measures have had in countries such as Israel.

At the Dwight Eisenhower Presidential Museum, in the final room marking his legacy and leadership in war and peace, is a quote from Ike: “If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison.” Americans have always valued freedom above all things. But a randomly generated invasive safety procedure, without concrete evidence that such procedures are correlated to positive safety results, become nothing more than harassment of American citizenry and an infringement upon our personal freedom.


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