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Mon, Feb 20, 2012

Women Complain Of TSA Profiling

Accuse Agency Of Enabling Voyeurism At Checkpoints

Many people worry about the TSA profiling passengers based on skin color, religious clothing or national origin. Several women who've been through checkpoints at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport say they were targeted for multiple screenings simply because they were attractive.

KTVT in Dallas reports that TSA requires pat-downs of female passengers to be done by female screeners, but the revealing electronic backscatter images from full-body scans are viewed on monitors in rooms which can be staffed by men. If the account of Ellen Terrell is accurate, it seems clear there has been more going on than legitimate security activities.

The station reports Ellen and her husband, Charlie, were screened at DFW several months ago. Ellen recalls her interaction with the female screener. "She says to me, 'Do you play tennis?' And I said, 'Why?' She said, 'You just have such a cute figure.'"

Terrell says that after the scan, the female agent told her it didn't get the image, and sent her through a second time, and then a third. Finally, she says, the screener spoke into her microphone to say, "Guys, it is not blurry, I’m letting her go."

The Terrells call what's happening voyeurism. Texas State Representative Lon Burnam says he's fielded multiple complaints, adding, "I think it’s sexual harassment if you’re run through there a third or fourth time."

KTVT reports it examined 500 complaints against the TSA and found a number of similar allegations. Names have been redacted on the records, but the complaints speak of TSA agents unprofessionally "trolling" the lines, selecting only women for the scans, and walking to the viewing room to see the scans of the women selected.

DFW now has newer body scanners which show only a generic outline no matter who's being scanned. But the older machines are still in use at 39 airports nationwide.

TSA responded to the KTVT report with a statement which reads, in part, "TSA does not profile passengers. All of our millimeter wave technology units including those in Dallas have been upgraded with additional privacy enhancements that no longer display passenger-specific images. Even prior to this upgrade, officers reviewing the images were located in a separate room and would have never seen the passenger being screened."

The agency adds it is not protocol to subject any passenger to multiple scans, and encourages passengers to file complaints if it happens.

FMI: www.tsa.gov

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