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ME/CFS AUSTRALIA (SA) INC

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Flying the unfriendly skies

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Community MagazineFrom the monthly Sephardic magazine Community:

 

FLYING THE UNFRIENDLY SKIES

By: David Mizrahi

Stricter security procedures at US airports have met with a public outcry and calls to reevaluate the way planes are kept safe. And many believe that the solution is to be found some 6,000 miles to the east of our shores – at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.

Several months ago, a 49-year-old woman – we’ll call her Andrea – was flying out of Pittsburgh. Waiting in the security line on the way to the gate, she knew she would have to avoid the electronic scanners, since she was recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome, and cannot expose her fragile body to excessive radiation. According to newly implemented guidelines of the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), passengers must choose between full body scans and a so-called “pat down search” by TSA officials. So, she innocently opted for the pat down. But the experience turned out to be so dreadful, that Andrea went into trauma, and began crying. Graphically describing the ordeal in a letter she sent to civil rights activist John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, she wrote, “The officer ran her hands over every square inch of my body, firmly pressing into my flesh in every area.”

After the search was finally completed and she retrieved her belongings, she pulled out her camera to take pictures of the site, planning to file an official complaint. Andrea was promptly apprehended and forced to delete all the photos she had taken.

According to her testimony, the stressful experience reactivated her autoimmune condition, and she needed a full month to recover and rebuild her body’s immunity.

While Andrea’s story might be characterized as extreme, it underscores the growing disgruntlement of millions of travelers who pass through America’s airports. While long lines and burdensome measures like removing shoes and belts have been breeding displeasure with the air travel process since the World Trade Center attacks, the newest protocols are viewed by many as invasive and a violation of the constitutional right to protection against unwarranted searches. In recent months, public ire was ignited and fueled by several videos of humiliating full body searches that were widely circulated on the internet and shown on television. These disconcerting videos were accompanied by a leak by the Gizmodo technology blog of one hundred scanned body images obtained from an Orlando courthouse scanner, providing a disquieting glimpse of the graphic images TSA officials see every time a passenger walks through the machine. The public outcry has drawn attention to possible alternatives to current methods of protecting American aircrafts.

The full article can be found here.

 


 

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