Pilots’ Unions Say ‘No’ to Invasive TSA Airport Scans
By Lindsay Beyerstein
In These Times
The nation's largest pilot's union, the Allied Pilots' Association, urged its 11,500 members to boycott the TSA's whole body scanners, which use x-rays to render a very lifelike nude portrait of the subject. The TSA installed new "Advanced Imaging Technology" scanners in 65 more airports earlier this month.
For those passengers who refuse to play a nude bit part in the security theater, the TSA has launched a new line of more invasive body searches in October, Consumerist reports:
"To call it a pat-down is a euphemism," said a spokesman for the ACLU in Massachusetts. "They really go for it."
He says that -- unlike the antiquated pat-down, which required TSA screeners to use the back of their hands when searching sensitive regions of your person -- the enhandced pat-down allows them to use their palms and fingers to feel and prod passengers.
Dave Bates, president of the Allied Pilots Association, told ABC News that pilots are already exposed to high levels of radiation simply from flying. Radiation exposure is cumulative. The union is concered about the potential consequences of piling even more raditiation into their day-to-day routine.
The unions point out that pilots fly an average of 15-18 days each month and may face two or three scans each day. The radiation exposure from a scan is about 1/2000th the amount of a chest x-ray.
The alternative isn't appealing to pilots, either. In a message to his brother and sister pilots, Bates described the "enhanced" pat-down as a "demeaning experience."
"In my view, it is unacceptable to submit to one in public while wearing the uniform of a professional airline pilot," he wrote, "I recommend that all pilots insist that such screening is performed in an out-of-view area to protect their privacy and dignity."
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