Business Travel Coalition Slams TSA, Warns on Protests

In a statement, the BTC urges groups to cancel their planned opt-out protest day

ByABC News
November 21, 2010, 9:41 AM

Nov. 21, 2010— -- The Business Travel Coalition has come out criticizing the Transportation Security Administration and groups planning a national airport security screening opt-out day, saying that it is irresponsible to promote actions that delay travelers at non-secure airport checkpoints.

In a statement released Saturday, the BTC is urging groups to cancel their planned opt-out day to protest the TSA's measures during the busy holiday travel season, which begins on Wednesday, the country's busiest travel day of the year.

The group is also urging airline, airport and travel industry groups to strongly advise against these protests and focus efforts on a complete review of the TSA's new policies.

The BTC harshly criticized the TSA in the statement, pointing out the group's long history of disregard for citizens' privacy and due-process concerns.

"The deployment of full-body scanners without a formal public comment process and sufficient medical and scientific vetting is one of the worst TSA abuses of authority since its creation," stated BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell.

"The overly aggressive pat-downs represent citizen-mistreatment in the extreme, especially if used as 'punishment' when passengers opt out of full-body scans," he added.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said on CBS' "Face the Nation" this morning that she personally would not want to be subjected to the intrusive searches.

Asked if she would submit to a pat-down, Clinton replied: "Not if I could avoid it, no. I mean, who would?"

"I understand how difficult it is, and how offensive it must be for the people who are going through it," Clinton added.

In two of her Sunday show interviews, Clinton suggested that the Obama administration and its experts were open to changes in the controversial procedure.

"We have to be constantly asking ourselves, 'How do we calculate the risk?' And sometimes we don't calculate it correctly," she said.

"If there is a way to limit the number of people who are going to be put through surveillance, that is something that I am sure can be considered," she added.

How Many Will Be Effected by the TSA's Policies?

Despite the news reports of a growing hysteria about the full-body scanners and pat-downs, experts say that the new measures may not actually be a factor for most travelers this holiday season.

"The majority of us are not going to experience that over Thanksgiving weekend," Genevieve Shaw Brown, Senior Editor at Travelocity, told "Good Morning America."

"Most people will go through business as usual, the metal detector that we've all become used to, taking off the shoes, pouring our liquids in to the tiny little containers, business as usual for the vast majority of people."

There are 385 of the new full-body scanners at airports across the country, but there are 2100 total security lanes, which means that 80 percent of security lanes won't have the machines or the intrusive pat-downs.

And although the scanners and pat-downs have caught the attention of the media -- particularly across the web -- a recent study found that an overwhelming majority of Americans support the extended security measures, no matter how invasive they may be.

According to the study, 78 percent of Americans approve of the new body scanners and 84 percent believe they will help prevent terrorism.

"If it keeps me safer, no problem," Gary Becker, a traveler at Houston Texas airport told ABC News.

Camile Olson, a traveler at Chicago O'Hare airport, said she thought the controversy over the scanners may be a bit overblown.

"I didn't have an issue today in terms of feeling that there was an invasion of privacy," Olson said.

Some travelers, including Catherine Bossi, have had entirely different experiences, and have been left feeling vulnerable and violated.

Bossi, a flight attendant and breast cancer survivor, said she was forced to remove her prosthetic breast while a TSA pat-down was administered.

"I was horribly shocked," she said. "Yes, I was I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I had cancer and this was the way I was being treated."

Erin Chase, a mother from Ohio who was recently traveling with her infant, said the TSA pat-down was a complete violation of her privacy.

"She went down to the bottom of my legs and moved up my inner thighs and touched my genital area," Chase said. "As a law-abiding American citizen, mom traveling with a baby, I should not have been subject to that sort of a search."