TSA pat down.

With security lines getting so long in the past year, I think travel wait times are going to become the biggest deterrent to wannabe terrorists.

Jokes aside, what criteria is used to select people for a pat down after they exit the scanner? What are they looking for that a scanner doesn’t show, or shows as something needing the human touch?

Some particulars:

The past few times I’ve traveled, I was asked to submit to pat down 50% of the time. I wore pretty much the same type of clothes each time. Same number of layers even. Same carry-on and contents.

They always ask me to raise my hands and tell me they’ll be touching my back, underarms, chest, shoulders. Then let me go on to my gate without further questions or wanting to look inside my carry-on.

It’d be ironic if you were carrying explosives wired to a pressure switch in your chestal clothing and then PAT PAT BOOM!

I would bet it is at random or every so may people. That along with people who would fit a profile of being a terrorist. Or someone who is wearing something which could conceal a weapon.

Overweight people get patted down more often than fit people, because the scanner sees the layers of fat and fluids as bulk that could be hiding something.

But only if the purpose is to board an aircraft, and then cause mayhem.

Seems to me with long lines in an unsecure area, all a terrorist needs to do is get in the middle of the security lines, and cause the mayhem right then and there. That would force a major security dilemma with every airport. It’s been relatively easy to secure aircraft. Burt how do you now secure entire airports once there is a major terrorist incident in a major airport in the security line?

I’ve noticed that on the last three or four flights I’ve flown, the TSA agent has patted down my thighs (particularly my right thigh) after I go through the scanner. This is when I’m wearing boxer briefs and blue jeans or khaki pants, and have no implants (at least none I’m aware of) in my legs. So my paranoid brain is starting to wonder if there’s some irregularity in my veins or skin that’s being picked up by the scanner. I’ll mention it to my doctor when I’m next in for a checkup.

Edited to add, perhaps it’s just that I’m overweight?

The last few time’s I’ve flown, they’ve patted down my left shoulder & collarbone & nothing else. Once I managed a peek at the monitor the TSA agent had in front of him, and it showed a human silhouette with a red mark on its left shoulder. So yes, the full body scanners do/can indicate to the agents where to examine.

This thought occurs to me every time. I’ve little doubt public security analysts have had the same thoughts; that those security checkpoints are vulnerabilities ripe for exploitation. But I’ve not heard a single reporter bring this up while doing a TSA story du jour.

You are assuming way too much discrimination by TSA agents, who generally have about as much training as your typical mall cop. The Rapiscan backscatter X-ray machines are so shitty at discrimination of things that might actually be weapons that they have to be tuned up to high sensitivity, which produces fall negatives from clothes liners, persperation, medical implants, et cetera. In fact, an indepedent audit of the systems determined that they are pretty much worthless at finding potential weapons without generating huge numbers of false positives, notwithstanding all of the legitimate items you can carry in luggage that could potentially be used as weapons. Just another waste of time and money in the continuing effort to bolster public confidence by security theatre.


You don’t.

IIRC, I’ve usually gotten a pat down when wearing a hooded sweatshirt (with the hood off). I used to request a pat down every time out of principle, but then I got lazy.

I read an article somewhere that addressed this. It was written by an Israel airport security officer and his conclusion was that terrorists don’t need to get to an airplane in the US, they have a great target in the mass of people waiting to get thru security.

I’m inclined to agree. Seems like an ill considered reaction to the statement, “Something must be done!”. But what are some better alternatives?

How does Israel handle this? Anyone know?

I carry all of my stuff in a carry-on backpack. If it is warm or I just hustled into the airport (running late), I inevitably get my lower back patted down due to the heat that I am exuding from where my pack sits against me- very occasionally I will get my shoulder fronts where the straps go. So anything that runs warm is going to be flagged.

Thank you.

A few things jump out immediately:

  1. Israel uses trained military personnel vs. hiring commercial security contractors
  2. Security screening is a multi layered process
  3. Israel is not concerned with racial profiling

Scan for explosives ONLY. If somebody wants to take a personal weapon onto a plane for the purpose of committing a crime, they can and will be stopped by the other passengers. The era of being passive ended on 9/11.

“Get him!”… that’s your solution? Is that before or after he’s out of ammo?

And if we’re scanning for one, why not scan for the other at the same time?

The more pointed question is that why you believe there need to be alternatives. The security exploit that the terrorists in the September 11, 2001 used in their attacks (unsecured flight deck, which was observed by security experts and action-thriller authors for decades before 2001) has long since been addressed. That we have not seen any major terrorist attack backed by foreign training and funding on US soil in the past fifteen years despite the nearly universal hatred the US has engendered by invading, ravaging, and harrassing Islamic populations around the world would seem to strongly support the hypothesis that Al-Qaeda and other associated fundamentalist Islamic terror organizations pretty much shot their wad on 11 September 2001, and by using legally obtained items that were permitted to brought onboard aircraft at that time.

If they were to attempt another attack, setting off coordinated explosive devices in TSA security checkpoint lines at airports across the nation would arguably be nearly as effective as blowing up or crashing planes with the added benefit of making it clear that no one in any city was safe. But despite the imaginations of 24 scriptwriters and would-be conservative prognosticators trying to justify tightening up on immigration restrictions, we have yet to see this kind of attack. So, I’m not convinced that we need to do anything more than educate the public about the statistics of relative hazards, to wit that they are hundreds of times more likely to be killed in a car accident on their daily commute than to die in a terrorist attack.

I don’t know what you mean by this, and I’m not sure that you do, either. There is no machine to “Scan for explosives ONLY,” unless you are referring to those trace portal “puffer” devices that were in vogue about ten years ago which only look for nitrate residue. If you are, I can assure you from personal experience that those machines are completely worthless, as I’ve walked through them with nitrate residue on my boots on multiple occasions without setting them off.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take any security precautions; using metal detectors, inspecting luggage, and having security personnel trained in basic human response identification are all straightforward efforts with quantifiable success, and work on terrorist and “ordinary decent criminals” intent on basic mischief and malice alike. We accept these measures in federal courthouses, sporting events, and large public gatherings, and I think we can all agree that there are reasonable measures for public protection. But trying to put on a circus about our technomagical machines that detect terrorists only before they get on the airplane is like preventing teenagers from drinking by checking their pockets before they can be let into the football game. It’s not only absurd, it actually prevents us from making rationale actions to practically address and prevent terrorist acts.