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Poll: Public Backs Full-Body Scans at Airports, but Splits on Pat-Downs

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As the debate over what critics regard as overly intrusive security measures at airports heats up, a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted Nov. 21 finds that 64 percent of those surveyed support the use of full-body scans while 32 percent say they invade privacy by producing X-ray images of the passenger's naked body. Four percent had no opinion.

But when it comes to the pat-downs that are required if a passenger chooses to "opt out" of the full body scan, 50 percent say that the touching of sensitive areas of the passenger's body by screeners goes too far while 48 percent believe it is justified by concerns about terrorism. Two percent had no opinion.

While the Post/ABC poll shows that almost two-thirds of the public back the full body scans, that's a lower number than reported in a CBS News poll conducted Nov. 7-10 before the protests reached the crescendo they have in recent days. In that poll, 81 percent supported the use of full body scans.

Full body scansDespite whatever concerns exist about either procedure, the Post/ABC News poll found that 71 percent said the more rigorous screening mandated by the Transportation Security Administration made no difference to whether they would take a commercial flight. Twenty percent said the procedures would make it less likely that they would travel by air, while 10 percent said it would make them more likely to do so.

John Pistole, head of the TSA, has said that his agency has chosen not to use profiling as a screening device because "we don't do that here in the U.S." but 70 percent of those surveyed by the Post/ABC News said they supported profiling.
When it came to the question of what passenger profiles should include, 86 percent backed the use of profiles based on personal behavior, 78 percent said travel history should be considered while 55 percent backed its use on the basis of nationality. The public was split on whether personal appearance should be a criterion with 50 percent supporting its use while 48 percent were opposed. Racial profiling was opposed by a 59 percent to 40 percent margin.

The Post also reported on Monday that a scientist associated with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory had proposed four years ago to the Department of Homeland Security that a fix could be made to the scanning machines' software that would distort the body images of passengers "so they look like reflections in a fun-house mirror" while still revealing any dangerous objects they may be carrying. He said his proposal was rebuffed by officials.

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They say there were not many delays at the airports. Well, DUH, airport travel is sharply down this Thanksgiving. Those that flew already had non-refundable tickets from those ungrateful airlines, who are not willing to fight for their passengers. Pilots and attendants don't have to have pornographic pictures taken of them or sexual assaults done to them as the two choices...or leaving and getting an $11,000 fine!

November 24 2010 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My neighbor is driving on her vacation and she normally flies.

November 24 2010 at 7:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Bennett

Did any of the 71% who claimed to be OK with either being groped or screened at the airport happen to note that 100% of the elected and non-elected leaders in our Government of and for the people, "that's us folks," excluded themselves from having to submit to either????

November 24 2010 at 6:46 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Let's Make a Deal! I will accept a pat down under the pretense of "security", IF all elected officials and staff undergo lie detector tests as part of the political process live on national tv with questions about: their qualifications, their financial backers, legislation they intend to pass, lobbyists they have spoken with, and all legislative financial dealings they could possibly benefit from. Under the reasoning that as public officials they hold a public trust to the electorate - not themselves. Otherwise, focus on the Airport Security company that allowed the "underwear bomber" to circumvent the boarding process and get on that plane. Also let's see the video from Amsterdam airport showing the man in the suit who spoke with perpetrator and have it plastered across the media (recall eyewitness testimony of other passengers on flight from Detroit to Amsterdam!). The whole incident rings of false flag operation to impose more police state measures on USA citizens, as well as allowing Michael Chertoff (and cronies) to make millions as a consultant for the company that sells the Rapiscan.

November 24 2010 at 2:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Someone left out the choice of leaving after being given the first two choices either scanned or pat down. But if you choose to leave they detain you until they are sure your not a treat, how ever long that is, and they have the power to fine you up to $11,000.00. So I think we need another choice.

November 23 2010 at 12:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I would rather go through a pat down or scan then get on a plane with one of those terrorists with a bomb in their freaking underwear! Just do it people and shut up!

November 23 2010 at 12:00 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

The public sometimes hasn't thought things through, by the time they are polled. If the body scanner can be harmful to the health of an adult, what about the health of that little body of your child, or infant. To stand silently while you and your family are "zapped" with something everyone already knows holds great danger, simply confirms there are still a great many slow witted sheep out there. How many times has the public been told a particular drug, or device, or toy, etc., is perfectly safe, only to find out 10 years later that we, the taxpayer, must pay for the lawsuits arising from the damage that was done? The powerful and wealthy will protect the investments of the powerful and wealthy, until they are made whole, regardless of the damage to the general public.

November 23 2010 at 10:06 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Prior to the Revolutionary war the British soldiers stopped people and searched them as they pleased. They went into peoples houses and searched them whenever they wanted to and they freely helped themselves to whatever they found. This was not prohibited under English law at that time. The 4th amendment was written into the Bill of Rights and ratified by the States, to prevent this from occurring. I quote the 4th amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Are we ready to give up the right against unreasonable searches for any citizen of the United States ? How about the policeman that stops the cute 16 year old girl on her way home from school, or the girl on the beach in her bikini and pats them down. If searches may be performed when there is no indication of laws being broken then the above examples would be acceptable, and the people going onto the airplane are checked though there is no indication of any laws being broken. If these searches become acceptable then your home is next. You may note I have not said anything about scans and pat downs for persons that are not American Citizens. The Constitution was written to protect American Citizens, not those of other countries. If I am in another Country, i.e. Mexico I expect that their laws may be different and I would expect to follow them. Does the American Civil Liberties consider this an infringement of our rights ? I seem to recall they have filed suits to protect the rights on non-Americans: What about Americans ?

November 23 2010 at 3:06 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Should the scans and pat downs be done using a profiling method ? Let me ask you if a four year old boy should be picked randomly while a 20 something man with a full beard and mustache is skipped ? Which do you think is the most dangerous to fly with ? Unless your IQ is about 50 we will come to the same conclusion. Now: Which do you feel the safest having on your flight; A middle aged American man going from one city in the US to another or a man from Yemen with a one way ticket ? How about a woman who is thoroughly covered so that the only thing you can see is her eyes who says she does not want to be scanned and her religion prohibits her from being patted down. What do you think; should we profile, or would you rather die ?

November 23 2010 at 2:23 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Far more nudity can be seen in the magazines found at the checkout stand in your local grocery then you will see in these scans. If you are a woman you might want to refer to the comment about pat downs made by Gloria Alred. It is a legal way to get some action.

November 23 2010 at 2:10 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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