Pilot Refuses Full Body Scan, Says He's Fighting for Rights

PHOTO Michael Roberts, the pilot who stands to lose his job for refusing to submit to an airport full body scan said today that airport security scanners and full body pat-downs infringe on his rights and amount to "multiple layers of absurdity."
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The pilot who stands to lose his job for refusing to submit to an airport full body scan said today that the scanners and full body pat-downs infringe on his rights and amount to "multiple layers of absurdity."

"It's an outrage. The Fourth Amendment is there for a reason," Michael Roberts, 35, told "Good Morning America," referring to the Constitution's amendment which protects Americans against "unreasonable searches and seizures." "It's not dispensable for the sake of security, just to make us feel better or that something's being done."

Every week for four and a half years, Roberts walked through the same security checkpoint at Memphis International Airport to fly for ExpressJet Airline. But when the airport replaced the metal detector with a full body scanner and Roberts was asked to walk through it last week, he refused. He also refused the alternative full-body pat down.

In response, the Transportation Security Administration refused to let him fly.

"Security is not optional," the TSA said in a statement. "TSA's responsibility is to keep the traveling public safe and we use a variety of security techniques to carry out this mission, including advanced imaging technology and pat downs. Crew members have access to sensitive areas of both airports and airplanes, making it necessary for all crew members to be subject to multiple layers of security. Anyone who refuses screening simply cannot be allowed to fly."

Roberts said he understands security measures are necessary, but added, "it doesn't require stripping our rights away from us, our liberty."

"They subjected me to multiple layers of absurdity," he said. "That's a different thing."

Pilot Says He's Refusing Scanner For His Kids

The scanners, 259 of which are found in 58 airports nationwide, have been a source of controversy for the amount of detail they provide the screener.

"Roberts' attorney, John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute said the scanners were equivalent to "virtual strip searches" and full body pat-downs are reserved for those suspected of criminal activity.

Roberts is not the first flyer to refuse the scans. Two women flying out of Britain in March this year refused the scan, reportedly citing religious and medical reasons. They too were not allowed to fly.

Whitehead said he and his client are moving forward with a lawsuit in connection with Roberts' protest. Roberts said he's not sure whether he'll lose his job, but if he does, he said, "It's just a job."

"I'm doing this for my children," Roberts said. "I'm concerned about the world that they're going to grow up in. I think that's more important than my job."

Calls and e-mails to ExpressJet from ABC News seeking comment were not returned.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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