Politics & Government

Alaska lawmaker Tuck in feud with TSA over body scanners

Alaska state Rep. Chris Tuck is running TV ads telling people they can skip the new body scanners at Alaska airports and should call airport police if the Transportation Security Administration gets too frisky with the resulting pat-downs.

But Tuck is wrong in making the claim that "inappropriate images are taken and stored" with the security scanners, according to the TSA.

Tuck, an Anchorage Democrat, started running the ads Sunday night during the KTUU news, which airs statewide. The commercial is scheduled to appear during the morning and 6 p.m. newscasts for a total of eight airings through Wednesday.

Tuck said the air time is costing him $2,060 and that he's paying for it out of his Public Offices Expense Term, or POET, account, which is a place legislators are allowed to put surplus campaign cash after winning an election.

"I'm hoping to be able to properly inform people of their rights going through security," Tuck said in an interview Monday. "I think that people who don't fly frequently don't know what their rights are. ... During the holiday season sometimes that's the only time that people get a chance to fly."

TSA installed body scanners at the Anchorage airport on Dec. 9. They placed scanners in Fairbanks soon after. They'll arrive in Juneau and Ketchikan in the coming months. The scanners at the airports in Alaska and elsewhere have newer software, different from the older scanners that show unclothed images and raised privacy issues in the Lower 48.

These newer scanners do not show an actual image of the traveler who is being scanned. Instead, the scanner's display shows a generic, gray human cutout form. Any objects hidden beneath the passenger's clothing are indicated by images of small, yellow squares.

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