Two recent cases suggest that the government believes it has a right to touch your genitals, particularly if you choose not to have a full body scan (pretty explicit, huh?) done when you seek to board an airplane in the USA. The case of Erin Chase and John Tyner highlight just how confronting the "enhanced pat-down" procedures are. You can read Erin's blogpost about the incident here.
The "enhanced pat-down" procedures are conducted by the Transportation Security Administration or TSA.
full body scan done. If a refusal occurs then the passenger is taken off to a special screening area and subject to the pat down. If the passenger refuses a pat-down then they cannot board the aircraft. And, in the case of John Tyner, a TSA official will suggest to you that you will get into serious trouble and run the risk of a substantial fine, especially if you bail out in the middle of a screening.
Cutting to the Chase case, the TSA official did not inform her about the procedure, she just went ahead and did it. The enhanced pat down, as Chase described it, included the TSA officer touching both of Chase's breasts and her vaginal area, including both labia.
I am sure there are those of us out there who believe that this is not a breach of our civil liberties and that if it makes us more secure, then it is worth it. I am also certain that there are plenty of us out there who are struggling with seeing how the enhanced pat-down procedures can be truly justified. Whatever happened to the idea that you could be swabbed for explosives? After all, it was the attempt to blow up an aircraft with exploding undies which triggered these procedures. So, why not just swab people's hands and clothes?
TSA is not going to back down. So, the enhanced pat-down procedure seems like it is here to stay, at least for a while.
The final image here is an alternate view of one of the images above. The technology is certainly capable of getting the details of a whole lot more than whether you are carrying a gun or a knife or some other sort of contraband.