New TSA Pat-Down Techniques: ‘You’re Not Going to Like It’
Travel Blog • Eva Holland • 11.01.10 | 12:50 PM ET
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg writes about an illuminating encounter he had with TSA agents last week. Goldberg had refused to enter the full-body imaging device at the security checkpoint at Baltimore-Washington International, opting instead for the manual pat-down. Here’s how the agents responded:
When I made this request, a number of TSA officers, to my surprise, began laughing. I asked why. One of them—the one who would eventually conduct my pat-down—said that the rules were changing shortly, and that I would soon understand why the back-scatter was preferable to the manual search. I asked him if the new guidelines included a cavity search. “No way. You think Congress would allow that?”
I answered, “If you’re a terrorist, you’re going to hide your weapons in your anus or your vagina.” He blushed when I said “vagina.”
“Yes, but starting tomorrow, we’re going to start searching your crotchal area”—this is the word he used, “crotchal”—and you’re not going to like it.”
“What am I not going to like?” I asked.
“We have to search up your thighs and between your legs until we meet resistance,” he explained.
“Resistance?” I asked.
“Your testicles,” he explained.
‘That’s funny,” I said, “because ‘The Resistance’ is the actual name I’ve given to my testicles.”
The agents go on to explain that the ramped-up pat-downs are actually intended to force embarrassed passengers into the scanners, rather than to up the chances of catching underwear contraband. Goldberg also has a follow-up post from his return flight.