The week around Thanksgiving is always one of the busiest travel times. This year, air travelers will face stricter screening measures – full-body scanners and pat-downs – that are intensifying the debate over how intrusive the searches must be to protect the flying public.
Civil liberties groups and others are up in arms about the ramped-up security at airports.
But it is a fact of life in the post-Sept. 11 era, when would-be terrorists have repeatedly targeted airplanes.
And there's the core question: Would you rather board a flight with all passengers fully screened, or one for which they haven't?
If they're honest about it, the answer is obvious to even the most ardent civil libertarians.
Most travelers have come to terms with the routine – taking off your shoes, undoing your belt, turning on your laptop – as airport security tries to keep up with increasingly diabolical plots.
Now a growing number of airports (about 60 so far, including Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, but not yet Sacramento International) employ full-body scanners that allow Transportation Security Administration employees to see through passengers' clothing to check for hidden weapons and explosives.
Travelers who don't want to go through the scanner are required to undergo pat-down body searches that include the breast and groin. Those started in Sacramento several weeks ago.
An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union put it rather nicely: "You have a choice of being ogled or fondled."
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