Patdown protests don't take off

Nov. 24, 2010 at 4:53 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Thanksgiving travelers Wednesday apparently opted out of opting out, preferring to get to their holiday destinations rather than protest new airport security.

Civil libertarians had called on travelers to refuse to go through the Transportation Security Administration's new full-body scanners, forcing TSA agents to give them patdowns and slowing travel for the hundreds of thousands trying to get from here to there.

ABC reported, however, few travelers decided to participate in the protest, although some demonstrated their displeasure by disrobing in terminals or coming dressed for the occasion in bikinis.

James Barry told ABC the stepped up security is not that big a deal.

"The TSA has implemented these policies in order to keep travelers safe, in light of persistent efforts to disrupt air travel and destroy airplanes," he said. "I disagree strongly with anyone who feels that their right to privacy supersedes the rights of the rest of the passengers on that plane. If you don't like it, take the train."

The Chicago Tribune reported operations were running smoothly at O'Hare International Airport.

"It's really mild and really surprising," Ohio teacher Samantha Canfield, 58, told the Tribune while waiting for her flight to Connecticut. "It has been painless -- quick and easy."

"I'm wearing skinny jeans, so I went right through, but another girl wearing a sweatshirt and sweat pants was pulled aside for a patdown," Adriann Heed, 21, told the Chicago Sun-Times following her arrival from South Carolina.

Security lines at Dallas-Fort Worth airport were short.

"It's not like they're making a porn movie," Don Bellew of North Richland Hills, Texas, told The Dallas Morning News.

At Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta, the TSA said only 26 people had opted out of the scanners by midday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Protesters had called for Wednesday to become "National Opt-Out Day," urging travelers selected for a full-body scan to refuse the procedure and opt for an enhanced, time-consuming patdown instead, CNN reported.

"The goal of National Opt-Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change," event organizers said on their Web site. "We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent."

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