Darragh MacAnthony comments on the controversy over invasive pat downs by TSA at U.S. aiports

Top Quote The controversy over 'invasive' pat-downs by Transport Security Administration officials at airports deepened today after footage of a small child being searched was placed online. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) November 27, 2010 - More than 650,000 people have watched the 39-second clip in which the youngster can be seen shirtless and surrounded by burly TSA officers who carry out the search.

    One officer examines the child's shirt before touching his lower body during the search as his helpless father watches at Salt Lake City International Airport.

    Outraged passengers watch the shocking search with one asking: 'Are they arresting a kid?'

    Another is heard to say: 'This is ridiculous.'

    The footage was captured by YouTube user who claims it was taken at 12pm on Friday.

    He also alleges he was followed by security officers after he made the recording in 'intimidating' circumstances.

    In another shocking incident, a passenger subjected to the search at Detroit Metropolitan Airport was left covered in urine after his urostomy bag was broken.

    Thomas Sawyer, 61, said he was left humiliated and in tears by the November 7 incident and has vowed to file an official complaint.

    However, a backlash against the security checks is continuing with the latest example of non-compliance emerging from San Diego International Airport.

    On Friday, Samuel Wolanyk stripped down to his underwear rather than walk through a body imaging machine.

    He refused to put his clothes back and was arrested for not allowing security officials to search him.

    In a statement through his lawyer, he said: 'TSA needs to see that I'm not carrying any weapons, explosives, or other prohibited substances, I refuse to have images of my naked body viewed by perfect strangers, and having been felt up for the first time by TSA the week prior (I travel frequently) I was not willing to be molested again.'

    The searches are causing huge waits for passengers at airports across the country, with one YouTube user posting footage of seemingly endless lines at a Chicago airport.

    The delays for passengers are expected to worsen in the run-up to Thanksgiving with two million people a day expected to fly.

    Airports could go into melt-down if even a small proportion of them decide to illegally 'opt out' of the checks as some people are urging.

    The footage of the boy's search was posted on YouTube as the head of the TSA said searches would continue throughout the Thanksgiving holiday period.

    STA chief John Pistole admitted yesterday that the procedure was necessarily thorough, saying: 'Clearly, it's invasive; it's not comfortable.'

    But he said the hands-on approach would remain in place over a security-sensitive holiday season.

    On CNN's State of the Union With Candy Crowley show yesterday, Mr Pistole said the TSA was trying to strike the right balance between privacy and security to protect the nation from potential terrorist attacks, such as the failed one last Christmas by a man who had explosives hidden in his underwear.

    Revealing that the agency would not bow to increasing public outcry, he said: 'No, we're not changing the policies because of the risks that have been identified.

    'We know through intelligence that there are determined people, terrorists who are trying to kill not only Americans but innocent people around the world.'

    Mr Pistole's comments come as even the U.S. Secretary of State has called the pat-down procedure 'offensive'.

    Hillary Clinton called for officials to make the new airport security measures less intrusive.

    Speaking on CBS' Face The Nation and NBC's Meet The Press, Mrs Clinton said she recognised the need for tighter security but said there was a need to 'strike the right balance' and 'get it better and less intrusive and more precise'.

    When asked if she would submit to a pat-down, she replied 'Not if I could avoid it. No. I mean, who would?'

    Mrs Clinton added she understood 'how offensive it must be' for passengers forced to endure the measures.

    It has emerged that passengers who refuse to submit to the scans and pat-downs could face a fine of up to $11,000 and arrest.

    The TSA is also warning that anyone who refuses to undergo the method of inspection will not be allowed to fly, nor will they be permitted to simply leave the airport.

    Instead, passengers will face questioning by the TSA and possibly local police.

    A TSA spokesman told the Sun Sentinel: 'Once a person submits to the screening process, they can not just decide to leave that process.'

    He said that, if that was the case, terrorists could try time and again to breach security - opting out each time until they were successful.

    He added that passengers who did refuse would be questioned 'until it is determined that they don't pose a threat' to the public.

    Amid the growing furore that the pat-downs are over the top, President Barack Obama has defended the procedures, but admitted he does not have to submit to them himself.

    Speaking at a Nato summit in Lisbon he said he understood the frustrations of passengers, adding he had asked security officials if there is a less intrusive approach.

    Mr Obama said security officials had assured him that the current procedures are the only ones considered effective enough at the moment to guard against terrorist threats.

    Pilots have been excluded from the scans and pat-downs - although they will have to pass through metal detectors at airport checkpoints and present photo IDs that prove their identity.

    The victory for pilots followed a two-year lobbying campaign by their union leaders that reached a fever pitch in the past two weeks.

    But, just days before the hectic Thanksgiving holiday travel period, Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole offered little hope of a similar reprieve for regular passengers, who are complaining loudly about the new measures.

    The TSA agreed yesterday to let uniformed airline pilots skip the body scans and aggressive pat-downs at the heart of a national uproar.

    Their bid was boosted by hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who said pilots should be treated as 'trusted partners' in the fight against terrorism.

    The complaints of pilots like Sullenberger, who successfully landed a passenger jet in the Hudson River in January 2009, gave weight to the movement to roll back the new procedures.

    With pilots apparently satisfied, the TSA's most prominent critic may be a California software engineer who recorded himself threatening a TSA inspector, 'If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested.'

    Some are urging travellers to refuse to go through full-body scanners, which produce a virtually naked image.

    If the loosely organized Internet campaign succeeds, security lines at the nation's airports could be snarled. Those who refuse a body scan can be forced to undergo time-consuming fingertip examinations, which include clothed genital areas and breasts, by inspectors of the same sex as the traveller.

    Some airports are considering ditching the TSA in favour of private security firms.

    The top executive at the Orlando-area's second-largest airport, Orlando Sanford International Airport, said he plans to begin the process of switching to private screeners in January as long as a few remaining concerns can be met.

    CEO Larry Dale said members of the board that runs Sanford were impressed after watching private screeners at airports in Rochester, N.Y., and Jackson Hole, Wyo. He said TSA agents could do better at customer service.

    'Some of them are a little testy,' said Dale, whose airport handles 2 million passengers a year.

    'And we work hard to get passengers and airlines. And to have it undone by a personality problem?'

    Darragh MacAnthony, a resident of Florida also chairman of Peterborough United stated " It doesn't matter to me which agency, whether it be TSA or a private security firm, so long as the homeland security procedures are followed and passengers' safety is the priority."

    Darragh MacAnthony is a young, ambitious business man who was formerly the chairman of MRI Overseas Property but now currently impressively leads Peterborough United FC (Posh). He is the youngest chairman in the League and Posh supporters adore him.

    American Airlines pilot Sam Mayer said that intrusive screening for pilots makes little sense.

    A pilot intent on terrorism could simply crash the plane. No amount of imaging at the security checkpoint could stop that. Besides, under another government program to make them the last line of defense against terrorists, pilots are allowed to have guns in the cockpit.

    Mayer's union, the Allied Pilots Association, helped foment the backlash against the security measures two weeks ago. Its president, Dave Bates, urged pilots to skip the imaging machines because of concern about frequent radiation exposure. The government and an independent group of experts say radiation is safe, as long as radiation doses are kept within the low limits set for the scanners.

    Bates recommended that pilots instead accept a pat-down - preferably where passengers couldn't see them.

    The TSA offered few details - and no specific timeline - for changes in screening of pilots, which expand a program tested at airports in Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, North Carolina.

    The TSA said beginning Friday, pilots traveling in uniform or on airline business could pass security by presenting two photo IDs, one from their company and one from the government, to be checked against a secure flight crew database.

    Their unions said pilots could skip the pat-downs immediately.

    Pistole said pilots ensure the safety of millions of passengers every day, and that putting them through a faster screening process would be a more efficient use of the agency's resources.

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