- Aug 2010
Recently a young woman named Meg McLain was, according to her, randomly selected for a body scanner search, and I have no reason to doubt her having seen others (including myself) randomly selected over the past decade. Ms. McLain refused and hell broke loose. She was subject to pat down that apparently approached an assault.
Click here for an interview w/Ms. McLain where she describes the ordeal.
At an airport one's expectation of privacy is fairly low. A random selection, by definition, disregards any rational basis for the search. With the number of searches finding a home in the WTF category becoming so common one has to wonder (and I am being kind in selecting that word) if perhaps our search policies should not, in fact, be reviewed and changed with an eye toward being effective rather than abusive. Considering the limited resources we have for searches it would make sense to me that we select for searches those people who give rise to at least an articulable suspicion.
I've said it before so I'll say it again. Eventually we'll show up at the airport and give our bags to security. We'll go into a locker room to put on a white cotton robe to travel in and get our clothes back (hopefully) when we land. Efforts to remove discretion for those who conduct searches in the name of avoiding charges of "discriminating" are just plain dumb. The fact is that that's exactly what we want screamers to do; discriminate. Discriminate based on observations and other available data whether traveler X does or does not appear to be suspicious and therefore gives or does not give a rational basis to conduct the search. I know the thought is bizarre but perhaps it's time has come.