As if traveling during the holidays wasn’t stressful enough already, the Transportation Security Administration has some great news to share. With tensions regarding the threat of terrorism higher now than ever, airport personnel seem to be taking all possible precautions to prevent any holiday tragedies.
“Generally, passengers undergoing screening will still have the option to decline a (full-body) screening in favor of physical screening,” said Bruce Anderson, a TSA spokesman. “However, some passengers will be required to undergo (full-body) screening if warranted by security considerations in order to safeguard transportation security.”
The TSA has not clarified what warrants the “some passenger” classification, though the move is sure to reinvigorate cries of racial profiling.
Anderson added that the mandatory scans would only “occur in a very limited number of circumstances where enhanced screening is required. The vast majority of passengers will not be affected.”
Critics of the new mandate have noted that the lack of transparency around the issue will only add to general confusion and mistrust, especially in the high-stress circumstances that generally surround travel. Marc Scribner, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, expressed his frustration in an interview with USA Today, noting, “It wasn’t clear before what the policy was. Now it’s even less clear.” He added, “I don’t know if they could have done anything worse.”
The full-body scanners are no stranger to controversy, with earlier models of the technology showing nudity. And while the TSA has insisted that the machines do not retain any images for future use, this comes as little comfort to those who may be told that the only way to enter the airport is to submit to such a scan.
So this holiday season, don’t expect any presents from the TSA. Unless you consider a full-body scan a gift.